Estee Lauder eyes buoyant cosmetics demand in Africa

Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:20pm EDT
 
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By Tosin Sulaiman

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Estee Lauder (EL.N: Quote) plans to expand its presence in sub-Saharan Africa by rolling out its $1 billion brands, Clinique and MAC, to tap into strong demand for luxury cosmetics among the region's middle class, a company executive said on Wednesday.

The high-end cosmetics company will introduce Clinique, its second biggest brand with sales over $1 billion, in Nigeria this year and in Mozambique in the near future, Sue Fox, Estee Lauder's managing director for sub-Saharan Africa, told Reuters in an interview.

It launched MAC makeup in Nigeria's largest city Lagos in February after being "inundated" with requests and will be opening another store there within weeks, Fox said.

"There's massive interest from the consumers there in international brands," she said. "We're very excited about the potential of MAC in Nigeria. That's led us to pursue a strategy with MAC that will ensure that we're able to bring the brand to consumers in other markets."

The company has earmarked a second new market for MAC, its third biggest brand, this year and another two or three in 2014, adding to new partner stores in Botswana and Zambia.

It is also about to enter Cote d'Ivoire for the first time with fragrances, currently its biggest category in Africa. Estee Lauder's partners in designer fragrances include Tom Ford, Michael Kors Holdings Ltd (KORS.N: Quote) and Coach Inc (COH.N: Quote).

Fox said Estee Lauder views sub-Saharan Africa as "a long-term build," citing its youthful population, brisk economic growth and urbanization. The region, with the exception of South Africa, is its newest market.

"The potential of Africa, we believe, is extremely positive and we wouldn't be entering unless we believe that there was long term sustainable growth," she said.   Continued...