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TBG Interview: Francois Arpels, co-founder, Brands & Beyond

The Singapore-based skincare label which is set on global domination, Skin Inc, has a new member on its advisory board: Francois Arpels.

Of Van Cleef & Arpels fame (his family used to own the luxury business, and he started his career there), he now runs a private-equity fund focused on investments in lifestyle and luxury brands.

The luxury retail mogul shares his industry insights with The Beauty Gazette.

 

What are you currently focusing your energies on? 

I moved to New Delhi 18 months ago, following more than a decade of close dealings with India, to set up Brands & Beyond (formerly IndEU Capital). It is a private equity fund focused on investing in independent and non-ethnic made-in-India lifestyle and luxury brands that my partners and I plan on rolling out of India. Our business model is closer to that of a strategic operator; we plan on actively contributing value in the strategy of our portfolio companies than that of a typical financial operator.

 

How do you intend to contribute to Skin Inc’s advisory board? 

I’ve always been very attracted to innovation – how brands innovate to constantly stay ahead of the game. I was first introduced to Skin Inc when I was in Singapore three years ago, and was attracted to the look and feel of the store. After walking in and having a quick discussion about the products, I came to better understand the brand’s positioning and differentiation. It was during my second trip to Singapore that I met Sabrina Tan (founder of Skin Inc). We spoke about her passion and goals for the brand and I was instantly drawn in by the company’s entrepreneurial spirit, drive, innovation, and clear vision of converging beauty and technology.

As the Board Advisor for brand and strategy, my vision for Skin Inc is in line with what Sabrina has in mind, which is for Skin Inc to “be the Apple of Skincare”. In the next few years, I will be leveraging my experience in brand positioning, marketing and digital strategy to expand the brand’s reach into a key market for us – China.

 

How do you think technology will change luxury retail in the near future? 

Brands are now understanding that data analytics enables them to identify and exploit new opportunities from a more objective standpoint. It will allow for more curated services in line with the personalization trend in the industry.

 I believe that augmented reality is interesting too, as customers are empowered to experiment with products from the comfort of their homes.

 

How has the way consumers choose to shop for luxury, changed over the years?

Consumers are more informed, more sophisticated, more technology-savvy, and as a result, more demanding. In parallel, more brands have been entering the market offering even more choices. And finally, consumers are everywhere as they travel increasingly. Consumers are looking for more meaningful products. They are interested in understanding where the products come from, and how they were made. They are looking for experiences.

 

What do high-end brands have to do then to keep themselves competitive and relevant?

Innovation is the best way for brands to remain competitive and relevant. Innovation can take many forms, from design to patents, from marketing to communication channels, from distribution to value-added services.

 

What is the one thing that all brand-owners should know if they want their label to be successful?

In the luxury industry, they must know that their product must carry legitimacy in how it is designed and made.

 

What’s next for your own business ventures?

I will be focusing on supporting and creating value for brands we invest in through Brands & Beyond. I am also organizing a content-driven conference in the lifestyle and luxury industry in New Delhi on March 10 and 11; it is supported by Boston Consulting Group and Mint. A few years from now, I would probably look at launching a larger private equity fund based on a similar model as Brands & Beyond, but focused on South East Asia where opportunities in scaling lifestyle & luxury brands are many.

©The Beauty Gazette

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