A new approach to natural cosmetics

Combining a natural beauty product range with an original Latvia-themed store design, Stenders is seeking to replicate its international franchise success on UK high streets

Global demand for products made from natural ingredients, such as cosmetics, is on the rise. Founded in Latvia, Stenders is a fresh addition to the current global range of natural cosmetics. The company has created an original concept that integrates the best ancient Latvian traditions with products that are natural in the utmost.

Stenders strength lies in the unique packaging of the products, the rich colour palette and the wide range of choice. Stenders produces hand-made soap, high quality natural bath cosmetics and bath accessories according to ancient traditions, including more than 70 kinds of hand-made soaps and 40 bubble balls, various bath milks and bath salts in a range of aromas, massage butters, essential oils and massage oils, salt scrubs, bath extracts and foams, as well as bath and sauna accessories.

Combining the life force of nature with knowledge from ancient recipes, Stenders products are hand-made using the highest quality natural products like plant oils, plant extracts, dried particles of plants, essential oils, distilled essential oils, beeswax and honey cells. The properties of each plant are also reflected in the colour, texture and design of the product. Stenders maintains its closeness to nature in its product packaging, which manifests in specified packaging requirements and the selection of eco-friendly materials such as recycled paper, linen and wood.

Stenders has developed an internationally successful franchised retail concept to provide its extensive product range through a unique Latvian health and beauty retail experience. Stenders shops engage the customer with unusual decoration and one of the keys to their success is a well-developed culture of customer service. Each customer is made to feel particularly welcome by shop assistants who listen to their wishes attentively, offering the most satisfying products. The Stenders brand is strengthened by its corporate social responsibility and well-developed charity traditions.

The quality of Stenders products is appreciated daily by customers in 22 different countries, even ones as distant as Japan and China. Why is Stenders so popular and why do franchisees from many countries want to operate its stores? Stenders franchisees acknowledge that the prime attractions are the unique concept (for which it is difficult to find a competitor), the interior decoration of the shops, the product design and the vast range on offer. Stenders does not use loud advertising slogans that disappear in the vast field of information - what speaks in their stead is the unique value of the products that combines high quality and unique design solutions. Stenders does not shower its customers with marketing campaigns - instead it engages them in charity campaigns.

Stenders' shop decoration embodies tradition: solid, stable, trustworthy, representing values tested by time. During seasonal celebrations, Stenders shops stand out with their extraordinary shop decorations. They make the customers pause and admire the visually discreet but intriguing decoration, which is full of traces of history and allusions to familiar elements of culture - Stenders windows are unlike any other shop window decoration.

The interiors of Stenders shops carry a theme reflecting the cultivation of nature, including specially designed furniture made of natural wood. Customer satisfaction with the shopfit and product range is continually tracked and is specifically tailored to each location. For example, for a recent new franchise shop opening in Poland an improved decorating style was developed, with more intense lighting and lighter furniture design.

Following the best traditions of cosmetics producers, Stenders has developed its own online shop, which allows easy adaptation for the language of the franchise country that would help the franchise to promote the Stenders brand and attract new customers to it. This would promote sales and help grow financial resources.

A'PROVEN'FORMULA'FOR'SUCCESS Stenders is being assisted in its expansion into the UK by franchise consultants Franchise Development Services (FDS). The consultancy's Managing Director Roy Seaman, CFE reflects: 'Stenders is the most exciting retail concept in the sector since The Body Shop. The stores bring some excitement to the high street because of the strong Latvian branding. Provided the new franchisees who come onboard are able to recreate and maintain the Latvian image they should be able to separate the Stenders outlets from the competition.'

FDS Southern Franchise Consultants Gordon Patterson and Gary Rigby add: 'The products are made to specifically developed recipes and have a very strong emphasis and ethic of quality, naturalness and eco-awareness. The quality of the products, innovative shop design and customer service approach combine to provide the franchisee with a proven formula for success.'