Robert and Tania Bassan, the owners of the very well-respected Caribbean beauty distribution company Tairo International, have officially announced the opening of a new, separate sister company, SOMAR Beauty.
SOMAR is a distributor for beauty and professional hair care brands servicing Caribbean local and travel retail stores, professional hair salons, spas and beauty supplies, as well as the Mexico travel retail market. Currently, the company distributes highly recognized professional hair care brands Phyto, Phyto Specific and Rene Furterer, as well as OPI. In addition, SOMAR was recently appointed the official distributor of the revolutionary innovative Moroccanoil line of hair products.
“We are very excited about SOMAR, which was established in response to the needs of the market,” Tairo International President Robert Bassan tells TMI during a recent meeting at the company’s Miami Beach headquarters. “We saw that there was an opportunity in the market with a developing trend for specialty and professional beauty products when we noticed that some of the more upscale department stores in the U.S. were dedicating more space in the fragrance and cosmetics departments to professional hair care products. We realized that this business complemented the fragrance and cosmetics business but did not cannibalize it, and we thought this could be interesting for our Caribbean and travel retail Mexico markets as well.”
Bassan points out that the fragrance and cosmetics business in the Caribbean continues to become more competitive, especially on pricing versus the U.S. domestic market: “We thought by introducing professional hair care brands to the travel retail market in our region, we could avoid the pricing challenge we were seeing with fragrances. So we started to explore the market, talking to some of the more select hair care brands out there. We found out that they were also interested in exploring this market, looking at travel retail as a good way for them to expand their business.”
SOMAR Beauty started with a core group of brands, said Bassan: “We have Phyto out of Paris with the Ales Group, which has been pioneering natural products for the hair for 40 years; and Rene Furterer, another major hair and scalp care brand out of France that specializes in using pure plant extracts and essential oils. From there, through our partnership with Coty, we started to distribute OPI nail lacquer in travel retail stores in the Caribbean. We recently had Coty expand that distribution to salons and spas throughout the region. And we are in the process of doing the same with all the other hair care brands, rolling them out in the Caribbean and Mexico travel retail.”
“The last brand we have added to the portfolio—which we are incredibly excited about – is Moroccanoil. These high-performing, oil-infused beauty products are creating a world-wide buzz on argon oil and paved the way for an extensive line of premium oil-infused hair care products to address the needs of all hair types. Moroccanoil decided to expand into travel retail about two years ago, when it previewed its line in Orlando. They started with Heinemann in Europe (first in Scandinavia), and they are with DFA, you can see it in Miami Airport and Atlanta, plus some other important operators around the world. We are using the appointment of Moroccanoil to announce SOMAR to the industry, explain what it is about and what we are doing.”
Bassan says that the structure of SOMAR Beauty very much reflects the DNA of Tairo.
“Many of the former team members of Tairo, who helped build the business, have transferred over to SOMAR. It is a completely separate company—the only crossover is ownership, the shipping platform and warehousing. But it is a separate team. This works well because SOMAR has a different dynamic than Tairo.”
Bassan explains that the fragrance and cosmetics business is more dynamic when it comes to launches than the hair care business, which depends on more of a long-term strategy.
“The hair care business also needs much more technical support so we have people onboard from the hair care industry that are providing training and sales support at the point of sale, another reason we need to have a wholly different team,” he says.
SOMAR also has a larger footprint than Tairo’s traditional business. “Whereas the majority of Tairo’s fragrance business is through travel retail – both downtown and airport operators, SOMAR is selling to hair salons, nail salons, spas, and in some cases, pharmacies, in addition to travel retail stores. So it has really expanded the reach of our business,” explains Bassan.
“So far, the feedback has been great and sales have been very good. We are actively growing the company and are very excited about it,” he adds.
SOMAR diversifies the group in two ways, both through a different product offer as well as through different clients. The concept was first introduced to the buyers and the top BAs in the Caribbean/Mexico TR market at the Tairo Beauty Conference in September 2013. The Beauty Conference that will take place at the Hard Rock Resort in September 2015 will be the first one that will fully encompass both Tairo and SOMAR at the event.
All the SOMAR brands – with the exception of Moroccanoil which is just rolling out – are already in the market, says Bassan.
“Moroccanoil – which had only been available in hair salons – opened up travel retail about two years ago (they were in Orlando the last two years) – and have developed a number of travel retail exclusives, travel retail sizes, travel retail sets and their body products, which were launched last year. They are doing extremely well,” he says.
“Moroccanoil will be quite exclusive, limited to one-two retailers in each market, and will be introduced in a three-phase roll out. The first phase will start in May-June; followed by phase two in the second semester of this year and phase three in the first half of 2016. We are offering a 15-20% discount to U.S. local market prices, and the Body assortments are in very selective availability in U.S. local market, so they will almost be travel retail exclusives. Our retailers are clamoring for the brand,” he says.
The new brands have permitted Tairo / SOMAR to use a number of new marketing and presentation tools at the point of sale. “We do Hair Diagnostics where our team goes in to train the retail staff, and often we add store events for consumers – it is a dynamic way of introducing the brand and the BAs and end consumers love them. Even though our channel is travel retail, a significant portion of sales is local market and the shoppers come back.
The next Tairo Beauty Conference will take place in September at the Hard Rock Hotel and will include more than 100 beauty advisors and will be split up between Tairo and SOMAR.
“The theme is that we are celebrating the Tairo Rock Stars, along with Rock music, the Hard Rock, and so on. We are running promotions right now in the Caribbean where the top sellers will be honored.”