Perfumers follow the scent of money

Newsroom 06/10/2008 | 15:57

“I decided to enter the perfume business eight years ago when I entered the perfumery of a ‘great nose' who is now a good friend of mine. It was there that I understood not only what I had missed but also how this business is translated in years, a history of 20 years, and what it means to grow up and evolve together with your clients,” Alexandra Paven, the owner of Createur 5 dEmotions, tells Business Review. She adds that the perfume store was born “from much passion. I only offer Romanians all the information that I have collected in eight years and I am trying to introduce them in this wonderful world.”
The perfumery was only opened in March this year since she could not find a space with a decent rent “that would not force me to make compromises.”
Createur 5 d'Emotions sells brands such as Mona di Orio, Etat Libre d'Orange, Parfums Del Rae, Lorenzo Villoresi, Les Nereides, Etro and Costes.
This selection will be completed next week with Ulrich Lang, Keiko Mecheri, Fifi Paris and Nez a Nez.
“It is rather complicated to choose the best from 200 independent perfumers. It is not enough to go to fairs, you can easily be wrong. If you really want to create your own universe and not copy the selection of other stores, then it is difficult to pull off,” says Paven, also underlining the necessity for guidance in this business.
“I am continuously studying the niche market, I go to fairs. This is not a franchise and does not have a pre-established selection. It is a store with its own personality, which is why you cannot say you are done with bringing creators, things are evolving permanently, and, most importantly, the market of niche perfumery is evolving,”says Paven.
The more Romanians understand what they buy – the concept quality, the more they understand what they really want – the more the market will evolve.
Paven does not see this business as one in which she sells luxury as the clientele of Createur 5 d'Emotions is “very complex and under development, it consumes smells that are more and more sophisticated.”
However, the concept of exclusivist perfumery is not limited to Bucharest “especially if you do not think that exclusivist necessarily means very expensive. I think in many places in the country a store of this kind could create passions,” she says.

New additions to the market
At the beginning of September, a new flavoury presence appeared in Bucharest. Elysee Concept opened Maison des Parfums, where lovers of unique essences can find brands such as Absolument Absinth, Ambregris Paris, Amouage, Penhaligon's, The Different Company, and Xpec, which sell for prices between EUR 200 and EUR 3,500. Previously, the most expensive perfume available on the Romanian market was Clive Christian which would set the customer back about EUR 2,000. Clive Christian can be found in the portfolio of the Madison perfumery.
This is the third luxury perfume store opened in Bucharest over the course of the last year.
Elysee Concept targets a turnover of EUR 1 million in 2009 which will be achieved through the distribution of luxury perfumes on the market in Romania and Bulgaria.
“We intend to develop a national network by opening new locations, by closing partnerships, franchises and distribution,” Cristina Balan, general manager of Elysee Concept, told the media.
Balan says in Romania there is no typical client, meaning that not only people with incomes above the average are interested in buying an expensive perfume. In Romania, the traditional consumption pyramid is not applicable. A person with incomes above average is not automatically the client of a luxury perfumery and vice versa. Consumers pay large sums of money for the products they place value upon so you can find buyers with average salaries who are willing to invest a lot in a perfume they have always dreamed about, and the other way round,” says Balan.
A second Madison boutique was opened in the most “in vogue” area of Bucharest, owner Madeleine Florescu tells Business Review. The investment that goes into a boutique with a space of less than 50 sqm is EUR 150,000.
This year she estimates a turnover of EUR 750,000 and EUR 1 million next year. Florescu expects to recover the investment that went into opening the locations in less than three years. She says Romanians are very receptive to what is new.
“But contrary to what was supposed until now, it is not out of snobbery. I continue to believe that this interest comes from our Latin spirit, the French spirit that we have been coquetting with for so many years,” she adds.
Perfumes such as Annick Goutal, Clive Christian, Creed, Carthusia, Miller Harris, Ineke San Francisco, Tann Rokka, Boellis-Panama 1924 and Parfumerie Generale are brought from France, Italy, the United States, England and Portugal. The perfumes can be found at prices between EUR 100 and EUR 3,000. Bond No. 9 and Puredistance are recent new additions to the Madison offer and Florescu promises some more novelties which are the most “hot and trendy” in the great capitals or in trendsetter stores throughout the world.”
“In Madison they sometimes enter before it enters these stores, or at with several weeks between.”
The most exclusivist in the batch are Clive Christian and Puredistance, “a newer perfume that can be found just in ten places in the world, including the famous 10 Corso Como in Milano,” says Florescu. Clive Christian sales also “weigh the most” in the total business figure (20 percent) but the perfumes that sell best in Madison are Annick Goutal and Nasomatto.
Florescu says when she chooses the perfumes that make up the Madison selection she uses “nose and instinct” and often takes into account the recommendations of her friend, Octavian Coifan, who is a perfume maker and historian in Paris.
“We bring something new at least twice a year. This season we excelled with six new brands and this is because they had been on my list for a long time but they decided all at once,” says Florescu.
With the two locations she opened, Bucharest is sufficiently covered at this point, says Florescu. “A downtown and an uptown location are absolutely enough. Even one single location would have been enough, it was only that many of the customers we have in Bucharest who live and hang around in the northern part of the city would prefer to have Madison closer. We also had a grain of luck since we managed to find an extremely good location, which was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” says Florescu. She describes the price of the rent as “crushing” – EUR 120 per square meter.
Madison may expand to other cities, “but finding the right partner is the key, and this makes us avoid hurrying in establishing deadlines such as next year. When we find the perfect formula, this will happen too,” says Florescu.
However, none of the new locations will be in a luxury commercial center.
“We will never enter a mall, even if it is called a ‘luxury commercial center.' Luxury products can be sold only by following a certain recipe and this means street location in the most prestigious and traditional areas. Unfortunately, these are also the most expensive.

By Otilia Haraga

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