A retail concept combining accessible-luxury beauty, lifestyle and home products has entered the U.S. in Manhattan’s SoHo. And that’s just the beginning.
Rituals, which is based in Amsterdam, is far from a fledgling retailer and product maker. It was established in 2000 and opened with a slew beauty products displayed in its first store in Holland. It also ambitiously took on luxury perfume stores, the Internet and department stores as channels of distribution.
“In 2000 we were one of the only omni-channel specialists. But we were a bit too early with that model. So we stopped ecommerce and focused more on the retail end,” said Rituals founder and CEO, Raymond Cloosterman.
Admittedly, it took four years to open the company’s second store, but over the next nine years Rituals expanded throughout Europe. There are now 300 stores worldwide, with most based in Europe, such as the UK, Germany, Spain, as well as in Brazil, where there are three stores. Department stores also serve as an important distribution channel for Rituals’ 450 skus, mainly to build brand authority, Raymond said. The channel is an important one to penetrate in the U.S. in 2014, in addition to its new distribution in Barneys New York. In Europe, Rituals is sold in 700 department stores.
In 2013 the company, which is privately held, generated an estimated 225 million euro, or about $307.6 million at current exchange rates. Raymond estimated a 30 percent revenue increase in 2014, with about 60 stores scheduled to open in Australia, Switzerland, Norway and Brazil, to name a few.
The idea for Rituals came about when Raymond, who was formerly with Unilever, moved from an operational role to a new position at the consumer products giant, one that saw him being named SVP New Business for Europe’s head office in Amsterdam. The transition, he said, was tough.
“There’s a joke when you come from the operational side where we say 80 emails and 12 meetings a day is easy compared to being at an empty desk and someone’s basically asking you to write a book.”
But Raymond said he embraced the new role and “just went out there and met new people where new thinking was going on.” Soon, though, he discovered he was meant for an entrepreneurial path, and he left Unilever to create Rituals.
“I found that my passion was all about helping people enjoy the little things in every day life. Changing every day routines into small meaningful rituals.”
Rituals sources inspiration for its products from ancient Eastern rituals and cultures. Its philosophy is one of “awareness about a quality of life and living in the moment.” Their target consumer is someone who likes to “discover new products and pamper herself.” And, the brand is designed to target both genders and all ages. Rituals strongly adheres to a price/quality ratio.
“What we do is combine the world of luxury cosmetics and prestige at an accessible level. What Nespresso does in coffee, what Zara did to fashion 15 years ago, that’s what I would love to do in the prestige retail arena. When you enter our store you get a chic, elegant design and products that use the best perfumers in the world all at a mid-price range. Accessible luxury is one of the biggest trends in travel retail. We have a complimentary price level so more people can buy it not only for special occasions—maybe this is the secret—but to come back and buy it on a routine basis.”
Rituals items sell for about $15-$25 for bath and body care to $45 for skin care. Candles and home fragrance prices fall in between the two.
Raymond looks to L’Occitane as a successful business model.
“It has a multichannel kind of approach with a strong heritage and philosophy. If you look at a lot of the brands out there, they are more designer brands and are lacking bit of a soul. Rituals has been described as a young brand with an old soul.”
A second New York store is planned this spring, to be located on the Upper West Side.Four are planned for NY in 2014. Rituals also has an amenity deal with The Radisson group in 20,000 luxury rooms.