La Maison Valmont opens first North American store in Vancouver

Swiss skincare brand also has stores in Hong Kong, Berlin and Tokyo

La Maison Valmont president Didier Guillon has sold products through third-party retailers for decades and only recently started opening corporate stores | Glen Korstrom

The high-end skincare brand La Maison Valmont, which is diversifying its distribution by starting to open corporate stores, has launched its first North American store at Oakridge Centre.

The Swiss brand sells anti-aging creams, serums and perfumes at around 2,000 locations worldwide, including five-star hotels, spas and retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Holt Renfrew.

The priciest product in the store is a 28-day supply of an anti-aging serum, which retails for $1,500.

“You’re not going to buy La Maison Valmont products at Walmart,” the company’s president, Didier Guillon, told Business in Vancouver on June 26, while sitting by a fountain outside his new store.

He explained that cosmetics companies have two options for how to position their brands. One way is to mass produce products and sell them through places such as Walmart. The other way is to focus on quality and follow a retail strategy similar to one used by jewellers – to have expensive products and limited distribution.

“Vancouver is one of the more cosmopolitan cities in North America and probably worldwide,” said Guillon, who lives in Switzerland.

“I’ve come here many times and if I had to live somewhere, I would come here. That’s no joke. Deep down that’s how I feel.”

La Maison Valmont started launching its own stores in 2016, with the first locations being in Hong Kong and Berlin. The company then followed that up with a store in Tokyo, which opened earlier this year. Vancouver is the brand’s fourth location worldwide.

“Why Oakridge?” Guillon asked. “Well, what is the best shopping mall in Vancouver? Is it Oakridge? Yes. The answer is yes.”

Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre ranks as the most productive mall in Canada with tenants racking up $1,650.85 in sales per square foot, according to a Retail Council of Canada report released earlier this year.

(Image: Inside this box are two vials of an anti-aging serum. A box of 14 vials retails for $1,500 | Glen Korstrom)

Oakridge, however, comes in at No. 2 with $1,537 per square foot while CF Pacific Centre ranked No. 3 with $1,523 per square foot. The report used data for the year that ended August 31, 2016.

Retail consultant Craig Patterson, who owns Retail Insider Media and helped compile the report, said Oakridge is a smart location for La Maison Valmont to open a store.

“It’s a quieter mall,” he said. “It doesn’t get hordes and hordes of people shopping, so it’s a bit of a quieter, pleasant upscale experience. La Maison Valmont is near Tiffany and Harry Rosen, Rolex and Montecristo Jewelers so it’s a great area of the mall because it is quite upscale. La Maison Valmont just adds to that.”

He said La Maison Valmont also has less competition for cosmetics at Oakridge than it would have at Pacific Centre, where Nordstrom operates a large cosmetics section that generates significant revenue.

“On top of that, Oakridge has had a surprisingly limited selection of spa services until now,” Patterson added.

The 1,100-square-foot store includes a part at the back where there is a shower and a room for spa treatments. In addition to four full-time staff and two part-time staff are three estheticians.