French brand Yves Rocher began with a man’s love for plants. Today, it has grown into a billion-dollar global business, but its heritage and belief remain unchanged.
French brand Yves Rocher’s heritage and philosophy remain intact until today.
THE burst of colourful flowers along the streets was a sight as fresh as the air in the quaint town of La Gacilly. Travelling in from Paris, the new backdrop was a welcome change from the bustle of the city. Narrow streets, cobbled lanes and lots of greenery characterised the town, located in Britanny, France, the birthplace of Yves Rocher, founder of the eponymous French beauty brand.
A group of Malaysian and Thai journalists were invited to La Gacilly in July to better understand the company’s history and heritage. Our first stop was a cobble-walled building with bright blue-panelled windows and doors that matched the summer skies above.
Known as The Attic, this was the family home of the late Yves Rocher and it was up in this small attic that the first Yves Rocher cream was created back in 1959.
Remnants of those early days still remained in the house: black and white photographs, a framed-up order form and an antique typewriter. Simple hand-operated contraptions used to manufacture the first products were still on display, defiant of time, although now defunct.
Unglamorous as it may sound, Yves Rocher’s history can be traced back to a plant-based, homemade haemorrhoid cream.
The era was post World War II in Britanny and many people were leaving La Gacilly for bigger cities then. In order to help preserve and revive the town, Rocher and his mother developed a small textile business.
He sold the textiles at a local market, where he met an old woman who gave him a haemorrhoid cream and its formula.
The cream was very effective, prompting Rocher to gather 10 of his friends to work on mass producing the cream, collecting plants and roots from nearby fields as ingredients.
To market the product, Rocher went to Paris, asking newspaper and magazine owners to let him advertise the cream in their publications. After many rejections, one major newspaper finally agreed to let him place an advertisement. The ad generated much public interest and soon, Rocher ran out of stock for the cream, sold via mail order. That was in 1956. YVES Rocher’s latest anti-ageing range was revealed to Malaysian and Thai media members during a visit to its headquarters near Paris in July.
Made up of three products, Cure Solutions offers the 24-hour Vitality Skin Care cream, the 24-hour Anti-oxidant Shield Serum and the Anti-asphyxiation Flash Mask to help fight fatigue and external aggressions.
Vitality Skin Care is formulated with red vine leaf extract said to increase microcirculation by 30%, while the serum and mask contain Moringa peptide extract.
Moringa is called the miracle tree in Africa and its seeds are touted to be able to naturally eliminate dust and toxins from water.
Moringa extract is believed to have antioxidant and anti-asphyxiation properties to protect skin cells from environmental aggressions.
“Eighty per cent of skin ageing is caused by lifestyle and the environment. Smog and pollution, which ages skin more than natural factors, are forms of external aggressions just
Three years later, the first Yves Rocher factory producing beauty products was built in La Gacilly, providing employment for the townfolk as originally intended by Rocher.
In 1969, the first Yves Rocher store opened in Boulevard Haussmann in Paris. Today, there are 550 outlets in France alone, and 1,600 stores and salons in 80 countries worldwide. (This year, the outlets received a makeover with a new logo and retail concept known as the Atelier.)
In 2008, the company’s total turnover was €1.2bil (RM5.05bil). The brand carries over 700 products ranging from skin, body, hair like air-conditioning, which dries the skin,” said Anne Keyser, the international products marketing manager, during a presentation.
Aggressions like dust suffocate the skin while heavy metal molecules, ozone and
The Yves Rocher Végétarium in La Gacilly, Brittany, France; and (pic left) the attic of the family home of the late Yves Rocher where simple, hand-operated contraptions used to manufacture the first products are still on display. and sun care, to fragrance and make-up. It launches 100 new products each year.
Apparently, one out of three women in France uses Yves Rocher products. According to Kantar Worldpanel, a global consumer panel research group, the brand was the top skin and body care brand in France from 2004 to 2009 in terms of turnover.
Yves Rocher was also the number one hygiene and beauty brand in France in 2009 in terms of turnover, and the top slimming and firming care company in the country in terms of volume and turnover from 2006 to 2009.
Today, 90% of global product needs are manufactured in Britanny, where three factories produce perfume, make-up and skincare, and hair and body products. This provides employment to 60% or 1,400 people in La
Vitality Skin Care cream pollutants create free radicals that cause premature ageing.
“Cure Solutions is the new answer for modern, city-living women. Its products are effective against external factors of ageing Gacilly, which has a current population of 2,257.
Yves Rocher has prided itself as harvester, manufacturer and distributor ever since it first began. As such, our visit included a trip to the company’s Botanical Garden in La Gacilly, home to 1,100 species of plants. Within the garden was an area for organic flowers and plants such as chamomile, arnica and calendula. More than 10 Yves Rocher lines contain organic ingredients.
The total plant cultivation in La Gacilly meets a third of the brand’s global product ingredient needs. Yves Rocher also maintains close ties with 450 botanical gardens around the world, working together in conservation and biodiversity efforts.
“The purpose is to have relations with different botanical gardens to exchange expe- and suitable for women of all ages and skin types,” said Keyser.
Women living in the city also face hectic schedules. Fatigue ages the skin because it affects a skin mechanism called micro-circulation, which provides cells with essentials like water and micro-nutrients.
Vitality Skin Care, which can be used as a day and night cream, is said to fight skin fatigue by stimulating skin’s micro-circulation to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
“Use the serum before cream in the morning to protect face from environmental pollution,” said Keyser, adding that the serum can also be used before cream at night.
The flash mask, to be left on the face for five minutes and then rinsed off with cool water, can be used daily in the evening to help give a fresh radiance to skin. n Prices range from RM99 to RM159. Available at Yves Rocher outlets at Fahrenheit88, Kuala Lumpur; Subang Parade and Sunway Pyramid, Petaling Jaya; Alamanda Putrajaya; and Suria Sabah.
Garden of Eden:
Anti-oxidant Shield Serum and Anti-asphyxiation Flash Mask