On 7 May 2010 L'Occitane was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Despite poor global financial 1
market condition, its US$704 million initial public offering (IPO) was heavily oversubscribed by institutional and individual investors.
L'Occitane was the first French company to list in Hong Kong. "Back in 2008 it was already obvious to us that the trend was going to be that sales from Asia would be higher than Europe. We wanted to go to 2
where we had the biggest customer base," L'Occitane chairman Reinold Geiger said . Market analysts noted Asian consumers pursued French branded products and that brand preference and loyalty, in the case of L'Occitane listing, appeared to have extended to the brand owner’s new shares subscription. L'Occitane advertised itself as a global company with strong regional rooted in Provence of southern France. The company designed, manufactured and marketed a wide range of cosmetics and skincare products based on natural and organic ingredients sourced principally from or near Provence. Although L'Occitane went from a cottage factory in Volx in 1978 to a multinational enterprise today, the brand DNA and roots were still very much local- right down to its world headquarters and adjacent factory in Provence of southern France. Its legendary story was created by a young entrepreneur Olivier Baussan, who began the business as a creative venture. In 1976, Olivier purchased a steam distiller, a relic from his childhood experience in Provence, and harvested wild rosemary and produced the first batch of pure Rosemary essential oil at the age of 23. Olivier Baussan sold this essential oil at local markets. This all3 natural product was quickly embraced by villagers and L'Occitane was born . 4
In an interview with The Independent , the young entrepreneur explained that "Behind the L'Occitane products is a poetic vision of Provence. It's the story of the land. My parents left Paris to come and work the land. I was raised with respect and love for its traditions." Olivier Baussan’s respect had deep roots. He witnessed his parents enduring, à la Jean de Florette, a series of hardships and misfortunes in trying to harvest olives commercially. The difficulties eventually forced his father to return to his former profession as a writer. Undeterred, Olivier stuck with his dream and his creative vision paid off. Within two years, funded by family and friends, he had established his first store and factory in the Provençal village of Volx. By the 1980s, he was making enough products to support a burgeoning chain of outlets across France. Olivier’s ambition was to create a company that celebrates Mediterranean well-being. The company name, L'Occitane, he chose for the company referred to Occitanie - the ancient province that once covered the south of France, northeastern Spain and northern Italy. The idea was to mix traditional craftsmanship and natural ingredients from the Mediterranean region in the creation of products for personal care and the home.
Following the success of Olivier’s Rosemary essential oil, the company began to grow in a very organic way. After discovering an abandoned soap factory, the young entrepreneur became fascinated by the idea of reviving the art of soap making in Marseille. With the help of others, Olivier created soaps using a vegetable fat based recipe and traditional methods. Today, these vegetable-based soaps were known all over the world for their quality ingredients and attractive, traditional shapes. In the early 1980s, while exploring the world for new ingredients and traditional techniques, Olivier learned about the Shea trees that grew in Burkina Faso in West Africa. These sacred trees produced a nut that was ground into a rich, thick paste known as Shea butter. He almost immediately realized the potential of this natural ingredient and used the Shea butter as a nourishing and moisturizing ingredient in L’Occitane products....
References: China Statistical Yearbook, 2009.
Grant, A (2006), “What executive are asking about China: From entry to execution”, The McKinsey
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