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  • Hannah Tan-Gillies

Exclusive: Sung Pak on leveraging Tom Ford’s multi-axis portfolio in travel retail

In a milestone deal, The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) recently completed the acquisition of the Tom Ford brand. The transformational US$2.8 billion deal has significant implications for Tom Ford in travel retail, opening opportunities to build cross-category synergies with spaces that offer the brand’s fragrance, makeup and eyewear lines.

“In beauty, Tom Ford will have the opportunity to accelerate its expansion in travel retail and explore new markets, categories, and regions” – Sung Pak

In this exclusive interview ELC Tom Ford Senior Vice President Travel Retail Worldwide Sung Pak talks about the brand’s recent positive results in the channel, with Tom Ford recording +64% fragrance growth in EMEA and +131% in the Americas. Pak also previews what the next chapter holds for Tom Ford in travel retail and how it plans to leverage new opportunities in fragrances, particularly in Asia Pacific travel retail.

Tom Ford is leading in fragrances in EMEA with impressive growth in the Americas and the eye makeup category. In your view, what has contributed to Tom Ford’s positive performance in the channel?

Tom Ford recorded +64% growth in fragrances in EMEA travel retail and +131% in Americas travel retail

Tom Ford has established itself as a leader in travel retail for several key reasons. First and foremost, as a global luxury house offering exceptional women’s and men’s fashion, accessories, eyewear and beauty, Tom Ford is known for modern luxury glamour. Travellers are drawn to this lifestyle and since launching Tom Ford Beauty in travel retail, the brand has become a destination where travellers can experience the brand’s commitment to innovation, discovery, exceptional products and high-touch experiences. Travellers shopping in our boutiques are immersed in the world of Tom Ford as they discover new launches, most-wanted products and brand exclusives.

Luxury fragrances are in high demand with consumers globally, growing ahead of the total category, and Tom Ford is the leading fragrance brand in EMEA with +64% growth and +131% growth in the Americas, as per Generation Research. In addition, Tom Ford makeup continues to lead in travel retail, maintaining a #1 rank in eye makeup globally.

The brand’s ability to set trends and adapt to changing consumer preferences, coupled with its strategic partnerships with airports and our retailers, has allowed Tom Ford to remain at the forefront of the travel retail industry. It continuously evolves to meet the demands of travellers at every point of their journey.

Tom Ford recorded +64% growth in fragrances in EMEA travel retail and +131% in Americas travel retail

In June 2023, ELC completed the acquisition of the Tom Ford brand. What does this mean for travellers and for the brand moving forward?

The acquisition of Tom Ford by The Estée Lauder Companies represents an exciting development for both travellers and the brand. For the brand, this acquisition signifies a broader platform for growth and global reach. In beauty, Tom Ford will have the opportunity to accelerate its expansion in travel retail and explore new markets, categories and regions.

For travellers, this acquisition means an even more enhanced and comprehensive beauty experience within the travel retail space. Expect to see new category offerings as we introduce Tom Ford eyewear to the travel retail market, as well as travel retail-exclusive collections and innovative shopping experiences at airports and downtown boutiques.

Tom Ford is one of the leading eyewear brands in both the menswear and womenswear categories. We are thrilled to be offering select retailers an exclusive preview this week at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes of how a combined beauty and eyewear at-counter offering expands the world of Tom Ford for the traveling consumer.

Travellers can anticipate a deeper connection with the brand as it continues to evolve and elevate the luxury beauty experience in travel retail.

As fragrances continue to rise in Asia Pacific, Tom Ford is leveraging this uptick with the launch of new innovations and travel retail-exclusive scents

Combining eyewear and beauty in the same counter highlights the power of Tom Ford’s multi-axis portfolio, which spans fragrance, beauty and fashion

Can you give us more details and share a bit of what the counter experience will be like?

The Tom Ford counter experience in travel retail will be a destination in itself, providing travellers with an opportunity to indulge in the world of Tom Ford during their travels.

The experience will offer high-touch beauty and fragrance services, luxurious experiences and customised consultations based on travellers’ needs and destination.

Tom Ford Eyewear service consultations will focus on special eyewear features such as frames and lenses, protection and beauty, as well as shape recommendations to find the perfect fit, creating a full Tom Ford luxury experience.

Most importantly, this in-depth, high-touch service experience requires the right retail space to ensure consultations across categories reflect consumers’ expectations of the brand. With the right retail space and the right retail partner, we feel this expanded world of Tom Ford will be incredibly accretive for the channel.

High-touch, makeup and fragrance services characterise the new Tom Ford counter concept, which is being revealed at the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes

Hainan is an incredibly important market in travel retail. We’ve also seen a rise of fragrance in Asia Pacific. How is Tom Ford leveraging opportunities in fragrance in this space?

We recognise the importance of the Hainan market and the growing interest in fragrance in the Asia-Pacific region. We’ve seen significant growth in fragrance in the APAC market with +59% year-on-year growth, per Generation Research.

The brand’s ability to understand and cater to the preferences of the Chinese and APAC market, along with its commitment to offering high-quality fragrance products, has positioned it as a leader in this region.

We are particularly proud of our latest store in Hainan at the cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex, where we opened a 124 sq m boutique. Featuring a private consultation and dedicated livestreaming space, the store fully embodies the Tom Ford vision of seduction and glamour. The largest Tom Ford door in travel retail, the store is a destination itself.

What else can we expect from Tom Ford in the next year?

Our creative director Peter Hawkings recently had his debut show at Milan Fashion Week. The Summer 24 Runway Beauty Look echoed the feline allure of the 1970s with a sumptuous smoky eye as the centrepiece. It featured the brand’s signature Eye Colour Quad and Tom Ford Architecture’s Shade and Illuminate Soft Radiance Foundation SPF50 and Contour Duo creating an incandescent, seemingly bare face.

In fragrance, we continue to see high consumer demand for many of the brand’s signature fragrances including Tom Ford Oud Wood, White Suede, Ombré Leader and Black Orchid.

Tom Ford will continue its commitment to innovation, quality and luxury through product accelerations, category expansion and boutique openings, offering travellers around the globe the opportunity to discover the world of Tom Ford.

(Above and below) Tom Ford Creative Director Peter Hawkings made his runway debut at Milan Fashion Week, debuting a new Tom Ford Beauty look

A billion dollar beauty proposition

Tom Ford Beauty was first introduced by ELC in 2006. In the intervening years it has become a hugely successful beauty brand, growing strong double-digit net sales on a compound annual basis from fiscal years 2012 through 2022.

In ELC’s fiscal year ended 30 June 2022, Tom Ford Beauty achieved nearly +25% net sales growth year-on-year.

ELC said it expected the brand to achieve annual net sales of US$1 billion over the next two years. Tom Ford Beauty continues to have strong momentum across channels and key markets resulting in a prestige fragrance ranking in the top 15 in the US and top ten in China.

Tom Ford Beauty offers what ELC described as a highly differentiated collection of fragrance, makeup and skincare, which the group said reflects Tom Ford’s singular vision of modern glamour, crafted with ultimate quality.

ELC said the brand is strongly positioned in the luxury fragrance and makeup categories, areas that are expected to outperform industry growth over the coming years in key markets for luxury and online channels globally.


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