Penny Grivea, managing director of Rituals, talks to us about her vision for the premium lifestyle brand, exceeding customer expectations and creating the 'wow' factor.
RF. How did your career path lead you to Rituals?
PG. I started my career in retail and beauty. I spent the first 10 years of my career in this great industry and then I wanted to spread my wings and get into the accessories and fine jewellery market for a while. Then there was an opportunity to join Rituals, a fantastic brand with great global presence and a great opportunity to turn the brand around in the UK and make it a success story. The values, culture and vision resonated with my own vision for the brand. It was a brand I felt I could make a difference and put my mark on. I am so blessed because I get to work with some amazing people and great retail partners who are open to new initiatives and open in taking risks. I have also had the pleasure of building a great team and prepping them to play in the champions league, where good is never good enough and we are always striving for excellence. We are also lucky to have fantastic products and also a great back-up and support from our central head office.
RF. What does the in-store Rituals experience offer customers?
PG. Experiential is the most important part of our brand. We go beyond functionality; we connect with customers and sell dreams. Our CEO, Raymond Cloosterman always tells us we are not here to sell a brand. We are here to make people feel special and you can only do this through meaningful experiences that allow people to slow down. This is what our philosophy stands for – helping everyone slow down and turn their everyday routines into meaningful rituals. Its important to create the 'wow' factor and exceed customer expectations every time. An experience in store always starts with a warm welcome and smile, followed by a cup of tea. We bring every customer to the water island to experience our cult product, our shower-foam. We sell one every three seconds globally. If you try the shower-foam, your shower will never feel the same again. We also offer one minute meditations in store, hand and arm massages, VR experiences and much more innovation to come.
RF. What trends do you see emerging in the beauty retail sector?
PG. Mintel predicts beauty spending to top £11 billion by 2021 in the UK. The beauty and personal care market grew by 1.4 per cent in 2017. It will continue to rise in colour cosmetics, skincare and haircare. The omnichannel approach will continue to grow and become even more seamless. There will be a rise in personalisation both offline and online, big increase in sustainability, wellbeing, natural cosmetics, a rise in artificial intelligence, more pop-ups and 'try before you buy' opportunities. Last year we won the award for the fastest growing retail brand in Europe. With the decline retail is seeing, Rituals is definitely bucking the trend and seeing a +23 per cent L4L in our own standalone stores, a +40 per cent L4L increase in wholesale and +65 per cent increase in e-commerce.
RF. Can you run through the interior of your new London Bridge store and what it provides customers?
PG. The history of the station, dating from 1836, is a great backdrop to our Rituals design and the retail environment we have created. Our design, including our beautiful Sakura tree, fully utilises the structure of the vaulted ceiling and has the distinctive and luxurious look and feel that you would expect from our brand. Inside the shop our customers will be able to experience the full range of Rituals Home and Bath products and this location has been chosen as one of the first in the UK to receive new introductions and innovations too.
RF. Do you have plans to launch more Rituals stores across the UK and worldwide?
PG. Our ambition is to open 1,000 stores by 2020 globally. Our current biggest markets being in Europe. We have a presence in the Middle East and are expanding in the US. We will be expanding our portfolio and opening another 50 stores in the next three years in the UK and Ireland. As retailers are closing stores, we are opening stores and finding that our stores are little heavens for our customers where they love to come in and experience the brand, see our new product launches (around 300 a year), limited edition products, but above all interact with our ambassadors which allow them to experience the brand at length. We are speeding up to help our customers slow down.
What makes us successful is that we have a unique proposition, a good business model/vision and a great team. All this combined with a founder’s mentality makes us successful.
RF. How important is the physical store experience to Rituals?
PG. The stores are the heart of our company. It is where we welcome our customers and have the opportunity to let them try our products. A visit to our stores is a full experience, as we welcome our customers with a lovely cup of Rituals tea, offer hand massages and even special 1-minute meditation treatments. Our customers have a chance to try the products, like our iconic shower foam, at our water island and experience the fragrances of our luxurious products, like the Private Collection candles. Nothing beats a long-lasting and meaningful experience where you can connect with customers. Raymond always tells us “we’re not just selling cosmetics, we’re here to make people feel special” and that’s always our number one aim.
RF. What’s next for Rituals?
PG. We have the ambition to continue to grow internationally and will launch a lot of innovative products and concepts in the upcoming years.