Javier Simon, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Estée Lauder Companies Travel Retail, Asia Pacific Region
As a global leader in prestige beauty with more than 25 brands and a presence in over 150 countries and territories, The Estée Lauder Companies touch the lives of about half a billion consumers a year.
Fragrances and cosmetics represent the largest product category in travel retail and Asia Pacific the largest and fastest growing region in terms of sales value.
Against this backdrop how does Javier Simon, Senior Vice President and General Manager Travel Retail Asia Pacific for The Estée Lauder Companies, see his role in the industry.
We asked him to explain how he became involved in travel retail and how he views the sector.
Did your education and career path lead you unerringly to the beauty sector? Please explain how your career has developed and how you became involved in travel retail?
Having spent most of my formative years in Venezuela, my dream was to discover and travel the world. Very young, I decided that I would become a diplomat, giving myself the means to make that dream come true. I learned and became fluent in English, German and French. I obtained a diploma in International Studies in a Venezuelan university, and, while working in the oil industry in that country, was granted a scholarship for an MBA in France. There I specialized in International Business. I guess that I can say that I am in travel retail not by accident but by vocation. I am very happy to be working in the premium cosmetics industry and have no regrets regarding not becoming a diplomat!
Please outline your current responsibilities at The Estée Lauder Companies.
Broadly speaking, I am responsible for the company’s corporate and brand strategies for travel retail within the Asia Pacific region.
Of which achievements are you most proud in your professional life?
I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented individuals in the industry in this company which has contributed greatly to the success of our business in the region. I am also proud to work for The Estée Lauder Companies, a company which is recognised as one of the key leaders in the industry.
Much has been said about the power of the Asian, and specifically the Chinese, traveller. To what extent is the product offer of The Estée Lauder Companies’ brands tailored to meet the specific requirements of the Asian consumer, both in their home markets and on their travels?
I think our broad strategy for local relevance across product offerings, advertising, communications etc. plays an important part in this.
Which do you believe are the greatest challenges facing beauty and fragrance brands in Asia Pacific at this time?
There are many opportunities for the beauty sector in the APAC region and few challenges. On the challenges front, top of mind for me is that the cosmetics category tends to be allocated less space in the travel retail locations when compared to other categories in many key locations, which limits potential. This is sometimes retailer or landlord driven. Also, with the blurring of channels and categories, maintaining a clear travel retail positioning is crucial. In beauty, for example, I believe that there should be a clear delineation between mass and prestige products in TR locations.
How would you describe your role as a board member of APTRA and how would you like the Association to develop in the next five years?
As a board member in APTRA, I am always humbled by the talent, passion and hard work of the APTRA team without exception…Jazlyn, Michael, Jaya, the board… I think that Jaya is an excellent leader building on the foundations left by his predecessors. The past few years have helped to clarify APTRA’s strategy, increase value added to its members and increase membership. The next few years should serve to consolidate APTRA’s position as a key institutional stakeholder in the region and for TR.
Belonging to the APTRA board gives me a view of the bigger picture of our industry.
With a busy agenda and a lot of international travel, how do you spend your free time?
I try to work out six times a week, I try. When in Singapore I cycle (8,394.43 kilometres in 2013, but who’s counting?). This sport allows me to wake up early and be home before my family gets up. Then I try to spend as much time as possible with my family. Currently I am reading ‘How to beat your dad at chess’ as how to beat your child at chess has not been published yet. Maybe, one day, I will write that book.