Bris Rocher: an entrepreneur with a long-term view
Bris Rocher is the grandson of Yves Rocher, the company's founder. He took over the Group's leadership in 2010 and is developing the company by capitalising on its three very topical pillars: a family group, affordable products and a very natural image.
The Rocher group has become a major player in the cosmetics world. What makes you so successful?
Bris Rocher: Three ingredients probably explain our healthy growth. The first is our shareholding, since our Group is 97% owned by one family. In a very difficult economic environment this is very reassuring for our staff, but also for our clients and for our environment in a wider sense. Our company is indeed very close to its geographical roots, to La Gacilly in Brittany, where 85% of our manufacturing takes place. This offers a real guarantee for local employment. Being a family Group encourages a long-term view and allows us to grow at our own pace while respecting our values. In fact when I really think of it, I only see benefits to this!
The second ingredient is the affordability of our products and the great proximity we keep wit our clients. Finally, the third ingredient is a natural brand. We are a "Creator of botanical beauty care". In addition to the natural characteristics of our products, we have for many years been committed to the environment. For our 50th anniversary – in 2009 – we made a commitment to plant 50 million trees. And we are doing it! We were also among the very first companies to stop testing our products on animals.
My grandfather Yves Rocher was a bold visionary. To start a cosmetics company deep in Brittany was a real gamble.
Bris Rocher , Chairman and CEO of the Rocher Group
B.R: These three ingredients –a family group, affordable products and a natural brand– are now more than ever in line with the expectations of consumers in search of meaning. These ingredients defined our brand as soon as it was launched in 1959. In that sense my grandfather Yves Rocher was a bold visionary. To start a cosmetics company deep in Brittany in those years was a real bet.
The yves rocher brand is among france's three favourite brands*. How do you explain this?
B.R: The Yves Rocher brand has a very real identity. It is personified by a man, a promise and a place. We have our own botanical garden with 1,100 species of rare plants, 125 acres of organical fields, an outdoor photography festival, three factories in Brittany, a green hotel and spa and a nature foundation. In the world of cosmetics few brands have such content.
What is your international strategy?
B.R: We generate 37% of our revenues in France, 35% in Western Europe and 15% in Eastern Europe. We are present in more than a hundred countries. Asia is obviously a thriving region and we are looking closely at countries like Vietnam, Thailand, or the Philippines, in addition to China of course. Africa is another development axis, a continent with which we have great natural proximity and where everything remains to be built. In Russia, the Middle East and Turkey our brands are growing at a rate of 30%. We also have a subsidiary in Mexico with real growth potential.
What about the digital revolution and the upheaval it is creating in consumer trends?
B.R: It cannot be ignored! We use it in three ways: media, distribution channel (e-commerce) and as a tool to serve our brands. E-commerce is a good thing – and represents approximately 10% of our sales –, but must be done in a measured way to avoid becoming too "intrusive". Retail remains our strongest sales channel. Our shops currently 41% of our sales, while 10 years ago mail order sales were predominant. With 650 shops in France and some 2,300 shops throughout the world (excluding sales points in department stores) we have created a real network of local outlets. Our shops are places of contact, advice and experience. The digital world will not replace this. On the contrary, I think there is a revival in shop sales. In April, we inaugurated a 450 sq. m. Yves Rocher concept store on three floors located at 43 boulevard Haussmann in Paris. The same address where my grand father opened his first 35 sq. m. Parisian store in 1969…
The yves rocher brand is positioned as a "creator of botanical beauty care". What does that mean?
B.R: My grandfather created his first creams using plants. Since then we have continued on this path thanks to a team of experts –all passionate about their job– who work in our research centre in Brittany. We have ethno-botanists, agricultural engineers, phytologists, formulators and dermatologists… The latest creation from our research and development centre is the Ice Plant, a "life plant" that lives in the most extreme conditions. We cultivate it in Brittany and thanks to a unique patented process –enzymatic cryogenic extraction– we extract its active principles without altering them and without any solvent. It inspired our Plant Serum range. The active principle is 100% plant-based and is absorbed by the skin much better than classic products like hyaluronic acid. Plant cosmetics are a real change in a world dominated by chemical products. When you think that there are still innumerable plants waiting to be discovered, what better laboratory could one dream of?
* Posternak-Ifop ranking "The French's preferred brands" – June 2015