Customers who shop at the L'Occitane counter count on high-end cosmetics and other luxuries. L'Occitane (pronounced "lox-ee-tahn") makes skin and body care, men's grooming aides, and home fragrances using natural ingredients like lavender from farmers in the Provence region of France. L'Occitane's offerings, many of which have Braille labels, include anti-aging creams, shea butter lip balms and hand lotions, orange nutmeg incense, a Lavender Harvest fragrance, and the L'Oranger line. Products are sold in Europe, as well as Asia and the US. L'Occitane, which went public in 2010, owns Olivier & Co., an olive oil producer and retailer, and many of its retail outlets in the US, Japan, China, and elsewhere.
L'Occitane listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in May 2010; the first French company to do so, it aims to capture Asia's accelerating appetite for consumer luxuries. Satisfying investors, the company posted more than a 20% increase in profits on approximately a 25% jump in sales in 2011 over the prior year. In China, sales increased by around 45%.
Growth during 2011 was fueled by some 130 new retail store openings (versus about 75 in 2010) primarily in China, Russia, and Brazil, as well as existing store sales (notably in Japan). The company also managed to strengthen its distribution and travel-related customers. All told, the total number of locations where L'Occitane products are sold increased close to 20% year-over-year. Company-owned stores account for almost half of the retail store locations, with the remainder operated by third parties, and airport and duty-free shops.
Worldwide, L'Occitane's reach spans roughly 85 countries. The US, Japan, China, and France account for more than 40% of sales. Although the company is bent on furthering growth by opening new stores in developing markets, it says it is also moving to strengthen R&D capacity and brand awareness. To these ends, in August 2011 it bought the 49.9% interest it did not own in L'Occitane Suisse and in L'Occitane (Korea) from Clarins. – less