Be Keen champions sustainable growth strategy for niche fragrances in TR

By Faye Bartle |

Antoine Khouzami and Abla Bencheikh

Antoine Khouzami and Abla Bencheikh are this year celebrating the 10th anniversary of their company Be Keen.

Distribution company Be Keen, which represents niche luxury fragrance brands in travel retail, is highlighting how its sustainable growth strategy is delivering results for its partners in the channel.

As the company celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, its founding business partners Abla Bencheikh, COO, and Antoine Khouzami, President, have revealed their expert advice for niche fragrance brands seeking traction in the channel.

The power of storytelling, a ‘renewed energy’ for searching out niche brands in travel retail and driving new partnership opportunities in South America and South East Asia in the spotlight as we emerge from the impact of Covid-19.

“During the pandemic, luxury consumers shifted to shopping online and this has shown how unique brands with emotive stories can stand out from the crowd,” said Bencheikh.

“We want to amplify our brands’ personalities in travel retail – there is still a big opportunity for niche fragrance brands to target travellers in luxury airport retail environments.

“Luxury consumers are looking for authentic brands with genuine stories to tell; Be Keen specialises in translating those emotional, creative stories into human connections.”

Be Keen, which counts Creed, Tiziana Terenzi and Etat Libre D’Orange within its portfolio, takes a long-term view to helping its partner brands to launch and build a global business in travel retail.

Its two-pronged approach covers: reinforcing market share in powerhouse domestic markets while continuing the roll-out of its portfolio in key airport retail locations.

A key part of this has been pursuing expansion opportunities in ‘emerging and challenging’ markets such as China (since 2013) with a sustainable, controlled growth in mind.

Today, the company’s global reach spans 27 countries across five continents, working with leading travel retailers such as Aer Rianta, DFS, Dufry, Gebr. Heinemann and James Richardson.

To further build on this, Be Keen has embarked on a steady growth plan to develop market share and the brand image of the niche fragrances it exclusively represents, driving new partnership opportunities across markets such as South America (Argentina, Brazil, Panama) as well as South East Asia and further into China as these important Asia markets start to open up.

“After some very tough and challenging times throughout the pandemic, the travel retail industry is back in action and with renewed energy for searching out niche brands,” said Khouzami.

“In 2022 the market is more competitive than ever.

“Travellers are looking for premium brands with character and personality; today’s travel retail offer continues to be a key growth driver and worldwide window for many leading luxury brands.”

Be Keen identified the UK as a key domestic market for its top selling fragrances.

“The UK is our number one performing market,” said Khouzami.

“Our top brands sold there are Tiziana Terenzi, Montale, Mancera, Etat Libre d’Orange, Une Nuit Nomade through our partnerships with luxury department stores.”

Elaborating on how the proposition of niche luxury fragrances has evolved, Bencheikh said: “As travellers become more sophisticated, online marketplaces develop and airports are more demanding in their requirements for differentiation, retailers are increasingly looking for something with premium appeal.

“The introduction of a niche luxury brand offer is an important element in this. However, it can be very challenging for brands to navigate the nuances of the market without a deep understanding of the industry’s intricacies and key success factors – this is where Be Keen comes in.”

Looking to the future, Khouzami stressed the importance of consolidating partnerships with existing brands and retailers.

“We wish to keep true to our roots and continue growing market share wherever relevant,” he said.

“There is a real appeal for niche brands nowadays, with a lot of retailers wishing to diversify their offer.

“We want to resist distributing those beautiful brands where they don’t belong, and remain truly ‘niche’ and ‘artistic’.”

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