Past Event: Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong

Evening Reception, Monday, 11 March 2013

Speaker Series:
ANDRÉ J. HOFFMANN, Executive Director of L’Occitane & Head of Asia-Pacific

From an Abandoned Soap Factory in Provence to the HKSE
The Unknown Story of Asia’s Favorite “Affordable Luxury with the Unpronounceable Name” & How Outside Investors Almost Destroyed and then Rescued L’Occitane from Ruin

18:30 to 20:30 pm (remarks begin at 19:00, followed by Q&A)

Club Lusitano, 27th floor, Salao Nobre de Camoes
16 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong

Event Details:

The Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong is pleased to invite you to an evening cocktail, canapés and discussion with André Hoffmann, one of the architects of the L’Occitane success story, board member & head of its Asia Pacific operations.

The L’Occitane “beauty” story is well-known, if extraordinary.  How a small company founded in a disused soap factory in Manosque, Provence, France went on to become one of the world’s most successful retailers of beauty, skin and home products in the world, bringing its message of Mediterranean well-being to the world. 

Less-well known is the L’Occitane business story. Founded in 1986, the initial sale of L’Occitane to outside investors in the 1990s not only failed to take the Company to new heights, it almost led to its undoing. The founder, Olivier Baussan, departed and, after 18 years of existence, it only had three stores. The firm was on verge of bankruptcy.

The subsequent 1994 purchase of initially 33% of the company by Austrian Reinold Geiger (increasing to a majority stake in 1996), however, led to the return of Baussan as creative director and, with the company’s new focus on marketing, paved the way for its international expansion, later strategic tie-up with Clarins and ultimate 2010 listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange – the first French firm to do so, and the second non-Asian company.

L’Occitane’s key insight was to focus on Asia, first, along the way re-writing the rules of retail in such markets as Japan (where products are sold outside of the dominant department store system).  The result: A retailer with twice the net margins of Tiffany & Co.  Today, the Company sells its products in more than 80 countries through 1,500 retail locations, with 50% of its sales from Asia-Pacific.

André Hoffmann’s role in the above has been critical. Hoffmann led L’Occitane’s “Go East” strategy, for which so much of the Company’s success is due, today, following his becoming L’Occitane’s Asian distributor just after Geiger’s own initial stake in the Company. 

We are very fortunate to welcome André to the Stanford GSB Chapter of HK and are looking forward to his thoughts on where L’Occitane and Affordable Luxury go from here. Please go to for additional information on the Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong and its activities.

Speaker's Bio: André J. Hoffmann
Executive Director & Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, L’Occitane

André Joseph Hoffmann is Executive Director of L'Occitane S.A. as well as serving as Managing Director of Asia-Pacific of L'Occitane S.A. and is one of the three senior executives running the Group, globally.

Mr. Hoffmann has been primarily responsible for Group's strategic planning and the management of Group's business in Asia-Pacific since June 1995. He has over 25 years' experience in the retail and distribution of cosmetics, luxury products and fashion in Asia-Pacific.

André  was founder of Pacifique Agencies (Far East) Limited, which was a joint venture partner with the Company for the distribution of L'Occitane products in the Asia-Pacific region between 1995 and 2004 and continues to serve as Director of the same, today.

In his capacity as head of Asia-Pacific for L’Occitane, he also acts as Managing Director of L'Occitane (Far East) Limited, L'Occitane Singapore Pte. Limited and of L'Occitane Trading (Shanghai) Co Limited, as President of L'Occitane (Korea) Limited, as Director of L'Occitane Australia Pty. Limited,  of L'Occitane Japon K.K., of L'Occitane Taiwan Limited, of L'Occitane (China) Limited and of L'Occitane (Macau) Limited.

Between 1979 and 1986, Mr. Hoffmann worked in various management positions at GA Pacific Group, a business specializing in the investment and management of retailing, wholesaling, trading, manufacturing and distribution operations and the hotel and tourism trade in Asia-Pacific. Mr. Hoffmann graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, USA in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics.  He holds US and French citizenship.

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