French premium skincare brand L’Occitane International SA (0973.HK) is tapping HKTV and Alibaba’s TMall to boost online sales in Hong Kong and mainland China.
“We have signed an agreement with HKTV, which is our first third-party website business,” Andre Hoffmann, managing director and executive director of L’Occitane, said on Monday.
L’Occitane will sell its products on the online shopping channel of HKTV, which was launched on Nov. 19. But the e-commerce arrangement has been postponed to early next year due to technical problems on the HKTV platform.
Hoffmann remains optimistic about the cooperation with HKTV. “They made a very attractive presentation to us. They developed a lot of their own content. So there may be opportunities to have local soap operas or Cantonese shows filmed inside L’Occitane boutique or using L’Occitane products,” he said.
Hoffmann also said the brand will open an official shop on Tmall on Dec. 1, which will complement efforts to upgrade its own official website for Chinese customers.
Online sales account for a low single digit percentage of the company’s total sales on the mainland, but the company aims to triple their contribution in three years, he said.
“We have a very strong belief that not just e-commerce, not just social media, but the whole retail business is being transformed and digitalized,” Hoffman said. “We continue to invest in digital and web [channels] and we think this will [generate] a very significant return for the company.”
Profit for the six months to September grew nearly 1.6 times to 37.3 million euros (US$46.29 million) over the same period last year amid higher sales growth.
Hoffmann attributed the negative sales growth during the seven-day Golden Week holiday in October to the ongoing Occupy campaign, but he noted that sales started improving recently.
He said China’s economic slowdown and austerity campaign have clearly affected the luxury segment, but the impact on the beauty segment has been much less.
“As L’Occitane has shown throughout the years, we tend to be, if not recession-proof, then recession-resistant, Hoffmann said.
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