A beauty first: Fashion retailer FJB bets on skin care brand Dr. Barbara Sturm in effort to diversify business

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

FJB recently expanded into beauty to tap into the growing demand for skin care amid COVID-19. [Dr. Barbara Sturm]
FJB recently expanded into beauty to tap into the growing demand for skin care amid COVID-19. [Dr. Barbara Sturm]

Related tags Skin care South east asia Business

South East Asian fashion retailer FJ Benjamin Holdings (FJB) has recently expanded into beauty with the addition of cult skin care Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics to tap into the growing demand for skin care amid COVID-19.

Founded in 1959, FJB is a Singapore-listed company that represents over 20 brands such as GUESS, Marc Jacobs and Rebecca Minkoff. The company operates 169 brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Group COO Douglas Benjamin told CosmeticDesign-Asia​ that the firm has been considering diversifying its business and entering the beauty space for a few years now.

With COVID-19’s impact on the fashion industry, 2020 seemed as good a time as any to make the leap.

“Skin care has been touted as a big growth area in consumerism and with COVID-19, it has taken a big leap forward in terms of demand. During the lockdown [in Singapore], we got in touch with Dr, Sturm to take on the brand and introduce it into Singapore through e-commerce,”​ said Benjamin.

Dr. Barbara Sturm, founder of the eponymous brand, is an aesthetics doctor based in Germany most well-known for developing a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy which was used as an orthopaedic treatment for the late professional basketball player, Kobe Bryant.

Sturm later adapted the Kobe Procedure, as it came to be known, to create the ‘vampire facial’, which uses platelet-rich plasma from a client’s own blood to increase collagen production and improve the appearance of wrinkles, scars and even stretch marks.

She went onto to launch her skin care brand in 2014, which centres on a science-backed anti-inflammatory approach to skin healing.

“It's a premium, world-class product. When I realised just how popular it was, I knew it was definitely this brand we should start with. We wanted to start with a true winner and true leader in skin care,” ​said Benjamin.

Explosion of interest

Despite the on-going pandemic, the Singapore debut of Dr. Barbara Sturm took off with a shot in November 2020, and promptly pushed the company to launch the pop-up right as its Singapore e-commerce platform launched.

“As we were getting the word out, there was so much interest and excitement that we just decided to hold pop-up too. I’m a very brick-and-mortar person and I felt that this was the best of both worlds,” ​said Benjamin.

The pop-up will be available in Singapore at Takashimaya Departmental Store for nine-months, but the company is entertaining the possibility of a permanent store.

“Everybody that has been coming in has been asking for treatments which we don't have now. We may think about opening a location able to give treatments as well. After lockdown, everybody ran for their treatments as fast as they could. So, I think for sure there will be a lot of demand for treatments,” ​said Benjamin.

He added that having a physical presence for the brand would be important in helping consumers discover and experience the brand and its products first-hand.

In the next month or two, FJB will be expanding Dr. Barbara Sturm into Malaysia where it has already secured a retailer in addition to its official e-commerce channel.

Benjamin added that the firm will explore the possibility of expanding into Indonesia when the time is right.

“I like to do things step by step. It has to be scalable and sustainable. Definitely, Indonesia is something we will talk about. In fact, we have talked [Dr. Barbara Sturm] about the three markets before – it’s just a question of timing.”

A deeper foray into beauty?

With the encouraging launch of Dr. Barbara Sturm in Singapore, Benjamin said the company planned to further develop its portfolio of beauty brands.

Benjamin revealed that the company has already identified a couple of options but has not advanced further than that.

“We've just started out and we want to make sure we do a bang-up fantastic job with Dr. Barbara Sturm first before we start going around looking for other brands. In this business, brands change. Some come and go, so we want to make sure we pick brands that will be around, and not be just flash in the pan.”

He added that the firm will not limiting itself to only luxury brands and explore brands from different price points and positioning

“Whatever we do, the one thing I won't compromise on is that it has to be a brand with good products.”

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