Q&A: Lush Launches its Cosmetics into the Middle East
Lush is a well-recognised handmade cosmetics brand across the world with its bright and flamboyant soaps, creams and bath bombs underlining its lively image.
The business is now entering the Middle East market, and Director Karly Bygrave took time to tell Business Review ME the rationale behind the move and why the region could prove to be a winner.
BR ME: Why is Lush investing in the Middle East?
KB: We like to be where people appreciate what we do. Middle Eastern customers quickly find our best products and are loyal to products that work.
We also love fragrance and there is a great appreciation for fragrance in the region. We want our customers to be able to find our products locally and as we only sell through Lush shops that means we have to put ourselves there.
How is the Lush brand received in the Middle East compared to Europe?
Very well. In some markets fashion and the latest thing carry more weight than effectiveness however in the region it is what works that is appreciated. The same cannot always be said of Europe.
How does the development of the brand in the region compare to other markets globally?
We are developing slowly and carefully in the Middle East. We would like to open more stores but availability of space in now becoming an issue.
In the Middle East the large trading groups have strong power with the landlords and can take a lot of space because they have an array of brands.
We on the other hand are only looking for single outlets for our own shops, which make it a little harder. We are very passionate about what we do and this passion makes us a great brand to have in your shopping mall so hopefully landlords will appreciate what we bring to the mix.
What is the scale of growth of the company in the region?
We are growing at around +40 percent like for like on a monthly basis and over the last four years have grown 800 percent.
Is maintaining ethical standards in the ME more challenging than other regions?
Not more challenging as each part of the world has its own particular challenges. We have a way of working that we are happy with and we work to stick to that wherever we are in the world. We like to show that business can be done ethically and are constantly working to improve what we do.
What made you decide to take this role as head of emerging markets?
I have been coming to the region for many years and I love the vibrancy of the region, the people, the colours, the smells and how it has developed. I can’t think of another part of the world that has developed so rapidly with such vision. The region is inspirational.
You don't have factories in every market, your products have a guarantee of freshness. How do you manage the logistics and how do you remain profitable with your current set up?
That is a constant challenge. We make our products in the UK and fly them into Dubai to maintain freshness. We have to work very hard on our supply chain logistics as well as our stock management to achieve the standard we set ourselves.
This is a great part of the world to do business. Customers are discerning, they know what they like. The sun shines all the time and you can always find a smile to cheer your day. What’s not to love about the region.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.