The Daily Telegraph

Ding dong... Avon ladies will now open their doors to you

- By Hannah Boland

IT WAS the subject of one of the most memorable advertisin­g slogans of the 21st century. But soon the days of “ding, dong... Avon calling” may be a thing of the past.

The beauty giant, known for its legions of Avon ladies selling door to door, is to open shops on UK high streets for the first time in its 137-year history. Avon has been forced to rethink how it sells to consumers as more women go out to work and its five million sales reps were forced to stop making house calls during the pandemic.

Angela Cretu, chief executive of Avon, said: “Women stayed at home in the past, but now they are going out to work and we have to follow them wherever they spend their time and make the service as convenient as possible.

“Women like to touch and experience the product and have that joy of seeing all the colours available.”

Avon said it will open a handful of shops initially which will be run as franchises by sales reps. It did not disclose which locations it will open its stores in.

The company, which was founded by a travelling book salesman in 1886 who began offering free perfume samples with purchases, became synonymous with housewives and stay-at-home mothers. It was touted as a way for more women to earn an independen­t income, selling Avon’s perfumes to people in small towns who did not have access to bigger shops. In the decades since, Avon has continued to rely on sales reps who go door to door with paper brochures or arrange parties in people’s homes.

However, its retail model has become a tougher task in recent years, with fewer people staying at home during the day and Avon admitting door-todoor sales are “not for everybody”.

According to official figures, the number of stay-at-home parents has almost halved since 1993 to around 1.6 million. At the same time, the trend for remote working has tailed off over the past year, with more than 40pc of workers in the office five days a week.

Before the pandemic, around a tenth of its sales made via reps came from online, but this has since risen to more than 30 per cent.

Kristof Neirynck, Avon’s head of marketing, said earlier this year that it was fighting to shake off its old-fashioned image and appeal to a wider group of shoppers. Mr Neirynck told The Telegraph in March: “When you say you work for Avon, you either get asked whether they are actually still around or people say that their mums used to be Avon ladies.”

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