We’re back to opening 4-5 stores every week: Rituals Cosmetics Founder

July 12, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

We’re back to opening 4-5 stores every week: Rituals Cosmetics Founder

Imagine this – October 2020 amid the pandemic when the streets are empty, a brand decides to celebrate its 20th anniversary by launching a flagship concept, the ‘House of Rituals’. Located on Amsterdam’s Spui square – only a few metres away from its first store that opened in 2000 – House of Rituals is spread across 1,900 square metres with designated massage and spa areas, an area to create personalised fragrances, a restaurant and lots to explore.

One would question the rationale behind such a decision. I did!

“When we opened this store, the streets were empty, but we still opened it because we needed to keep the momentum alive when our customers returned. We wanted to give them a reason to feel good despite all that was going on. And that’s exactly what happened, people started coming back to our stores sooner than we had imagined. The pandemic created a shift towards beauty and wellbeing, a segment that we specialise in,” shared Raymond Cloosterman, Founder and CEO of Rituals Cosmetics who is also a business economist.

For the uninitiated, Amsterdam headquartered Rituals Cosmetics is a luxury beauty brand that integrates bath, body and home care into a single portfolio.

Rituals seems to be on a rapid growth path, but did the brand have to restrategise growth at any point during the pandemic-driven lockdown?

“In a normal year, we open four-five stores per week. During the pandemic, it was one store per week, except the first three-four months during the lockdown. That was the only change of strategy,” Cloosterman shared.

“Cut to the present, we’re opening in more countries, while focussing on our digital growth. In Europe, approximately 20% of our business comes from digital sales, which was 5% pre-pandemic. In addition, we’re back to opening four-five stores every week somewhere in the world. I can say we’re on a roll!”

Turning to the Middle East where Rituals Cosmetics is part of the Apparel Group portfolio, by the end of 2025, the brand plans to have a network of 70-80 stores of which a large percentage will be in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“We’ve big plans to grow the brand further in the region along with our wonderful partner Apparel Group,” Cloosterman said.  

By the end of 2023 Rituals Cosmetics expects to have a network of over 1,100 stores, including the Middle East.

So, what’s the secret sauce driving success for Rituals?

“We’re not here to just sell beauty. We’re here to make customers feel good. That’s the secret sauce,” Cloosterman responded. “We are one of the fastest growing beauty brands in Europe cutting across beauty for both self and home, which I feel is a very strong asset, especially since the pandemic.”

He hits the nail on the head. Research and surveys indicate that consumers are, indeed, engaging with their preferred beauty products and services to not just look but also feel good.

The lines between beauty and wellness are expected to continue blurring with the combined opportunity representing close to $2 trillion globally for brands, retailers and investors, McKinsey & Company estimates. With the continued integration of beauty and wellness, the wellbeing industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10% until 2027.

If anything, it could be a potential growth opportunity for brands such as Rituals that already differentiates itself based on the brand ethos of enabling customers to practice wellbeing rituals every day. Some of the brand’s winning factors include its wellbeing philosophy, contemporary positioning, high-quality product range and “fair” price points.

“This has worked very well for us because we’re able to resonate with the younger generations – such as the Millennials who are value-savvy, quality conscious and innovation-centric,” Cloosterman added.

Luxury and sustainability: A balancing act

In summation, we addressed the elephant in the room. Can luxury and sustainability go hand-in-hand?

“Being a luxury brand that creates beautiful products which come in beautiful packaging, we’ve to manage that paradox,” Cloosterman opined. “For instance, sustainability is about less packaging. While our luxurious products come with more packaging. On the other hand, we use better and ethically sourced ingredients to make our products. And I’m proud to say that two years ago Rituals Cosmetics became B Corp certified.”

“Therein we’ve also strengthened our commitment to operating as sustainably as possible while offering shoppers a luxury experience. Currently, we offer refills across several categories to reduce packaging, and 90% of our products are natural with no microbeads and not tested on animals,” he concluded.

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