Inter Parfums: Specialty Store Specialist
Armed with a plethora of specialty store partnerships—including trailblazing stateside players like, , , and — , a subsidiary of Inter Parfums, Inc., the nearly 30-year-old manufacturer, marketer and worldwide distributor of fragrances, is in full growth mode.
Inter Parfums USA presidentspoke exclusively with Cosmetic World at the company’s Fifth Avenue headquarters about its current wealth of opportunities in the specialty sector. As opposed to the traditional department store channel, Clarke said, “in specialty, you have your own home as well as total autonomy over marketing your environment.”
Inter Parfums USA signed its first specialty store license, GAP, in 2005, and since then, many of the domestic brands it has partnered with have become major hits in overseas markets—perhaps most surprisingly in countries where the brand isn’t represented by retail outlets.
“Banana Republic, for instance, is a top ten brand in Russia,” Clarke noted. Iconic American names flourish overseas in department stores, perfumeries, specialty stores and travel retailers.
Organic growth is occurring in the specialty sector because it is a category that is simultaneously less trendy (than fashion) and highly emotive, Clarke said. “Personal care is not a category that’s meant to fit into a store environment, but stand out,” he explained. “It brings sensuality into an environment where at times there is none, and represents not where a store is now, but where it wants to be tomorrow.”
And fragrances developed by Inter Parfums USA for specialty retail brands also have lives outside of their stores: bebe, for instance, was one of the first brands to be sold beyond its own store network at.
With regard to its launch calendar, Inter Parfums’ stateside operation is poised for an active year. Recent introductions includeby bebe, from and GAP flankers and . The company continues to seek new licenses—“with brands that have no fragrances and those that have been underserved by their current fragrance licensee,” Clarke said.
A Winning Prestige Player
Following the departure of longtime partner(and a cool $240 million exit payment received), Clarke also has high expectations for Inter Parfums, Inc.’s illustrious collection of prestige licenses, which comprises , , , , , , , , , , and .
2013 will see a full slate of launches from this roster.by Jimmy Choo, by Lanvin and from Van Cleef & Arpels are already exceeding expectations, while new introductions are forthcoming from Boucheron, Anna Sui, Repetto and Paul Smith.
After signing a 20-year deal with Karl Lagerfeld last October, Inter Parfums, Inc. will start fresh with the brand (rather than marketing legacy products) beginning in late 2014. That year will also mark the debut of Inter Parfums’ first new fragrances from Dunhill and Balmain.
A majority of its licenses initially approached Inter Parfums—and not the other way around—Clarke said, due to the company’s well-oiled and multi-tiered business model. “We have a complete network of product developers, packaging designers, a design staff, an international sales team, warehousing capabilities and a sound logistics system,” Clarke said.
“And we view our partners as just that—allied members of a long term relationship in which everyone has to succeed in order to grow.”
While Burberry represented a significant share of its business, Inter Parfums, Inc. is looking optimistically forward, Clarke said. “It speaks volumes that our stock is at an all-time high; many of our licenses are showing enormous promise.”
Inter Parfums USA is also moving beyond fragrance into skin care, cosmetics and hair care. And another significant facet of its business continues to be entrepreneurial projects for companies likeand —retailers that are not under license but for which Inter Parfums creates personal care products on a case-by-case basis, Clarke said.
Clarke describes his management style as steadfast, yet flexible—“keep calm and carry on in the face of hectic times,” he says, while always remaining open to adjusting the business strategy when needed.
“Personal care is the worst category to just put your toe in the water,” he explained. “It takes a lot of perseverance and promotion. If you’re dedicated, it can be a tremendous opportunity, but it’s certainly not a ‘build it and they will come’ kind of category.
“In the beginning, fragrance tends to be an impulse buy,” he continued, “but customers have to see that you’re in it for the long haul—when they come back for the third, fourth and fifth time. Our goal has always been to take our creations from an impulse buy into a destination purchase.”