In a major move for the company, Essence Corp. has been appointed by Bath & Body Works (BBW) as its Travel Retail Global Distributor. Essence Corp. has been a current distribution partner of parent company L Brands for both Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works since 2014 in the Americas regions.
The Miami-based distribution company says that Essence will “maintain the same qualitative standards of distribution outside of the Americas,” as it has in the region.
“This is the first time we will be branching outside the Americas!” noted Essence Corp. Vice President of Sales Antoine Bona.
Speaking at length with TMI, Bona commented further on the new global deal:
“Bath & Body Works is really doing very well in the U.S. domestically. They posted positively even in the middle of a pandemic. People are at home. They are buying decorative soaps and candles, as well as hand sanitizers. BBW has been the bread and butter of L Brands for at least the last 3-5 years.”
Internationally, BBW depends on royalty partners, which are like franchisees, notes Bona. BBW had been handling travel retail by themselves, apart from Essence Corp., which is the distributor for the Americas.
“BBW decided to consolidate Travel Retail under Essence Corp. for its expertise and to invest resources to provide customer service and logistics outside of the Americas,” explains Bona. Among the new international accounts under Essence Corp. management for BBW are Dufry, Heinemann, Shilla, Lotte, Bahrain Duty Free, Duty Free Iceland, Flemingo Duty Free and New Delhi Duty Free.
Logistics from Miami
“We will be managing these accounts from Miami. Logistically, we have spoken to all these partners and they are already sourcing Victoria’s Secret and other brands out of the U.S. So they have no issues sourcing out of Miami,” said Bona.
“Miami is a growing international port, we can truck to Los Angeles and freight to the Eastern Hemisphere or use direct flight routes from Miami to the Middle East and parts of Asia.”
Since this is the first time Essence Corp. is expanding to markets outside of the Americas, it will initially be structured out of Miami.
“But in the mid- term when business picks up we will try to have sales reps in the markets – as we do here in the Americas in the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina,” said Bona.
Essence Corp. currently has an independent team of seven people managing the L Brands account within the company. The team includes two new additions – a planner and a project manager.
The team will be managing the Victoria’s Secret business in the Americas and the BBW business in the Americas and internationally.
“We have this separate division to handle L Brands due to the nature of the business, which is a little different than many of our other brands,” said Bona. “With L Brands we build out standalone stores which require project managers to coordinate with architects, general contractors, mill workers, and installation. We also have a retail supervisor providing sales leadership trainings to all locations. Essence Corp.’s strategy is to mirror an L Brands structure within our company.”
Prior to this new deal, Essence Corp. was managing 27 stores in the Americas (20 VS & 7 BBW) and now will add 18 new BBW stores.
Bona explains that Essence Corp. also comps sales data on a weekly basis for L Brands: “We are constantly analyzing KPIs at a weekly level (which we do on a monthly level for most other brands that we wholesale in Travel Retail), looking at the average ticket, the average conversions instore, comparing the performance of different categories this week versus last week, vs the same week last year, and year to date performance.”
A future opportunity?
Bona confirms that in the long term, the global nature of the new contract could be an opportunity for Essence Corp. to distribute other brands outside the Americas.
“But in the short term our focus is to really digest this business, learn this business, support the current business, and develop the business within BBW. Once we are able to attain that, we may start looking for other brands.
“For now though, our priority is definitely to service these brands, service existing customers, and develop business within the existing customers.
“In the medium term, we will look to develop business outside of these customers, and in the long term, yes, maybe we will look for other brands we might manage internationally.”