Avon, the beauty company famous for building a global business by making house-to-house visits, is to open its first physical UK stores in its 137-year history.
The company, which was founded in New York in 1886 by the travelling book salesman David H McConnell, has had to strategically rethink its business model after its 5 million door-to-door sales representatives had to stop making Avon house calls during the Covid pandemic.
The company said it would open its first stores in the UK under the Avon brand in the next two months, with its sales representatives running the “mini beauty boutiques” as franchisees.
“We are on the cusp of new frontiers for Avon,” said the Avon International global chief executive, Angela Cretu. “It is an exciting new chapter. Women like to touch and experience the product and have that joy of seeing all the colours available.”
The stores will feature about 150 products, although the full range will still only be available through its sales representatives.
The company has run a successful store programme in Turkey for the past three years, where it now has 63 branded outlets and says sales growth in the country has doubled.
Cretu said the move into bricks-and-mortar sales was in part because 80% of beauty purchases are made through retail.
Avon did not name the locations or the number of stores being opened in the initial launch phase, but said it would target “neighbourhood communities” and not just the usual high street locations.
“Many customers go to the stores for an opportunity to try many of the products, or simply to enjoy a pamper experience with a beauty adviser,” Cretu said. “We want to be as inclusive as possible. We want to give women the opportunity to open a business, especially in areas where it is not so easy for them to launch a startup.”
Avon has expanded its partnership with Superdrug after a deal in September to start stocking its products in 100 stores as well as sell online.
From 27 November the partnership will be expanded to hundreds more stores with plans to eventually make Avon products available through Superdrug’s entire chain of almost 800 outlets.
“Women stayed at home in the past, but now they are going out to work and we have to follow them wherever they spend their time and make the service as convenient as possible,” Cretu said.
In recent years Avon has increased its focus on selling online and through social media, such as through Facebook Live, a strategy that was accelerated during the pandemic.
Appeal to millennials, who are often concerned about environmental and social credentials of a brand, has been increased by Avon’s acquisition in 2019 by Natura, the Brazilian beauty group that also owns the UK’s Body Shop and Australia’s Aesop, and which has signed up Avon to a host of environmental and social commitments.