The Parfumerie: ‘Proudly Sri Lankan’

Friday, 5 September 2014 01:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Catering to a growing market of luxury goods in Sri Lanka Shoppers at many of Colombo’s most prominent malls will be familiar with The Parfumerie stores, reputed for their collection of high-end fragrances and cosmetic products. The Parfumerie, a subsidiary of Victory Impex Ltd., runs with Niki Hundlani at the helm, carrying on her family’s tradition of business excellence. Niki Hundlani was in Sri Lanka recently to continue the company’s habit of constant innovation in launching ‘212 VIP ROSÉ’ by Carolina Herrera. She met with the Daily FT during this time to discuss future plans for the company along with her high expectations of the industry. Following are the excerpts of the interview: By Senuri De Silva Q: How do you select new fragrances to be launched in Sri Lanka? A: The Parfumerie is a major retailer of luxury fragrances and cosmetics in Sri Lanka. We represent some of the biggest brands in the industry, including Givenchy, Dior, Issey Miyake and Paco Rabanne. As a result, we are a part of each brand’s global marketing strategy. Any new fragrance line being launched by them will be offered to us on a similar timetable as the rest of the world. That way Sri Lanka stays current. Q: What are the popular fragrances in Sri Lanka? A: There are so many different types of fragrance families – floral, fruity, etc., and we, as a people, seem to have varying tastes. So for example, in the floral family, ‘Very Irresistible Givenchy’ for women takes top spot. In the fruity family we have ‘Nina’ for women and ‘Black XS’ for men. The 212 Sexy range is doing very well, as do fragrances like ‘1 Million’ and ‘Invictus’ by Paco Rabanne. We just launched ‘212 VIP ROSÉ’ by Carolina Herrera, and that is currently our top seller for women. Q: Are there plans to open any new outlets in Sri Lanka or abroad? A: We are proudly a Sri Lankan owned and operated company, and our sights are firmly set on strengthening and growing our business locally. We do have long term and short term goals for expansion, mainly by opening more The Parfumerie stores, as well as growing our The Parfumerie Prestige business with our partners like Softlogic Galleria and NoLimit. Q: What has been the trend in the growth of such markets in the last few years and what is your outlook on the growth of the market in the future? A: These products started out as niche market products. Over time, this has changed. Owning a fragrance like J’Adore by Dior is no longer difficult. The market has grown to include different kinds of people who work in all sectors of the economy and who don’t just live in Colombo. I think this trend will continue and this particular market has the opportunity and the potential for further growth. I have a very positive outlook for the future. Q: Do you think such trends can be an indicator of the economic growth of the country, and increasing living standards, etc.? A: Absolutely. Our country’s economy is growing and strengthening. As a result, the amount of disposable income available to the average Sri Lankan leisure shopper has increased. This is clearly reflected in the growth of the market for luxury goods and services, including the fragrance and cosmetics industry. Q: What do you think about promoting Sri Lanka as a shopping destination for high-end tourists? A: I personally think Sri Lanka has a lot to offer, and I think tourists are seeing this. We have so much untapped potential in terms of natural resources, services and industry. Shopping is definitely a tourist attraction that just seems to be taking off. I think we need to focus on promoting the shopping aspect all round, not just for high end products. There will always be an overlap so it’s better to promote shopping as a whole. Q: What can be done to promote the industry in this aspect and what do you think is lacking? A: When promoting Sri Lanka as a whole, we need to include and emphasise the fact that we are also a destination for shoppers. We can do this through advertising and by focusing on countries that send us the highest amount of tourists. It’s a start. Slowly but surely we will get to where we need to go. Q: The Parfumerie provides a very selective range of products. What do you think of the potential for locally-manufactured cosmetics and perfumes to compete with such well-known international brands? A: The brands we carry are very well established. They have been around for decades and it has taken them this long to perfect their products. They use the best ingredients in their fragrances – like Bulgarian roses and jasmine from Grasse. They have dedicated R&D facilities as well as internationally acclaimed ‘noses’ to create their perfumes. I think Sri Lanka has great potential in this area, and I have seen some local brands starting to come up. I think if we keep doing what we are doing, one day we will definitely be able to compete with these international brands both locally and abroad. Q: Do you think that we will see these items being promoted by The Parfumerie? A: As we grow, and as these brands grow to reach their true potential, I don’t see why we can’t include them amongst the range of products that we carry. As the market leader in the fragrance industry, it is The Parfumerie’s responsibility to cater to our customers’ needs. Pix by Shehan Gunasekara