Rituals CEO: ‘The question was whether we would make it to Christmas’ | NOW

This year had to be the year of Rituals. The brand has existed for twenty years, a hundred new stores would be opened and the turnover would go by 1 billion euros. And then came the corona crisis. “Just like in the first year, the question was whether we would make it to Christmas”, CEO Raymond Cloosterman says in conversation with NU.nl.

That was in the very first period of the corona crisis. “When the eight hundred stores were closed, eight thousand employees were at home on the couch, 20 to 25 million euros a month had to be paid in invoices, while not a cent came in”, Cloosterman sums up.

Now that the dust has settled, Rituals has reinvented itself and is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this week with the opening of a flagship store in the heart of Amsterdam. This ‘House of Rituals’ will be the testing ground for a whole new business model.

The 1 billion euros in turnover may not be achieved this year, but the founder of Rituals thinks the company will come close to it. “The month of December will be the real test. Then a lot of people will always come into the stores. Those stores will be open longer, we will tempt people to come at other times,” says Cloosterman.

Get there where possible fast shopping lanes in the stores, so that customers who know what they want can be served quickly. The webshop is also at war strength behind the scenes. “If this whole crisis has had an advantage, it is that some things have accelerated, such as strengthening e-commerce.”

Greater focus on online sales is part of Rituals’ new strategy, prompted by the corona crisis. The six hundred new products that will be in the House of Rituals, for example, will only be available online in the first instance. These include perfumes that people can put together themselves and luxury bed and bathroom textiles.

Products will no longer be in every store

“If that works, the next step could be that some of those products are displayed in a special corner in the stores, where the customer can then order them,” explains Cloosterman. “A kind of new company within the company.” The products are then delivered to your home or can be picked up in stores.

Because despite the acceleration in the digital business, the stores remain an essential part of the Rituals concept. “We wanted to open a hundred stores this year, which has been reduced to 40. But we want to continue growing at the old pace from next year.”

Rituals will also become more selective in the number of store formulas where the products are for sale, the so-called shop-in-shop concept. “We won’t be in every store anymore,” says the CEO. In the US, half of the number of stores, just over twenty, are closed. “We will continue there with the Sephora chain and with digital first with Amazon as a partner.”

The above changes are all the result of the corona crisis. “This year we really used to reset.” According to the Rituals CEO, his company is “on the right side of the line”. “We have pampered products, small gifts that always go well, but especially when we are at home a lot. We are also lucky with the markets we operate in.”

A birthday present worth 10 million euros

Although that does not apply across the board. The travel division, the shops at airports, on cruise ships and in hotels, are doing dramatically poorly. “That’s 5 to 10 percent of the turnover.” Some countries, such as Spain and the UK, are also still performing poorly. In terms of profitability, the goal is still to do better than last year, with a profit of just under 90 million euros. “Or at least to come close to it. That must be because we are investing 75 million euros this year.”

Raymond Cloosterman already has a birthday present for himself: the opening of the House of Rituals on the Spui, in the city where it all started twenty years ago. An expensive birthday present, though. “That was a huge investment of about 10 million euros and the rent is phenomenal. You don’t earn that back there, but if all goes well elsewhere you will.”