Maison Trudon plans Hong Kong flagship
Maison Trudon, a luxury French candle maker and retailer with a 374 year heritage, launched its first luxury perfume range in Hong Kong yesterday – and revealed plans for a flagship store in the city.
The company has more than 700 retail sales points worldwide, including five flagships operated by itself or local distributors in Paris, London, (pictured below), New York City and – the most recently opened – Seoul.
“We are looking at Hong Kong. It won’t be this year, but perhaps the end of next year or early in 2019,” Paris-based director, Elodie Herreria, pictured, told Inside Retail Hong Kong.
“The luxury is we are a small company, family owned. We can take time to do things and nowadays time is a luxury. (The company has just eight head office staff and 25 factory employees).
“Asia is growing for us. Europe is a mature market for us – I wouldn’t say we have reached our limit there, but it is now getting to the top of what we can have in terms of stores.”
But selling candles in Asia is not easy, she said, because not a lot of Asians buy them, “except around death, which is a challenge”.
“A lot of our customers buy candles for a gift and they just sit on a shelf and are never burnt. That’s a problem for us because if they are not burned there is no repeat sale.”
The company is already scouting for sites in Hong Kong. While two retail neighbourhoods have been selected as potential sites for the Hong Kong flagship, the company is reluctant to commit because there are many vacancies in both areas.
“We are concerned about our neighbours. We don’t want to open a store and then after six months have a neighbour move in who doesn’t fit with our brand positioning,” Herreria said.
For now, Maison Trudon is stocked in Hong Kong by Lane Crawford and Joyce department stores, along with some specialty stores, including Shhh on Hollywood Road, Central.
The company has a total offer of around 150 candle products representing 29 scents. Prices range from HK$109 (€12) for a box of six table candles through to HK$3600 (€400) for a giant 3kg centrepiece. The top-selling product is a 270gm candle selling for about HK$640 (€70).
The brand was founded in France in 1643 and in its early years supplied royal family members prior to the French Revolution. To have survived so long is astonishing when one considers it originated as a candle maker to provide light. Its point of difference back then was its composition of beeswax which burned clean and bright, unlike cheaper animal fat-based candles which stank when burned and emitted black smoke. But with a Trudon candle costing the equivalent of an average day’s pay back then, its customer base was limited.
After the revolution, when having previously been associated with the royal family was something of a disadvantage, the company was allowed to continue in business, due to its public service outweighing any perception of luxury.
Then came the advent of gas and later electricity, meaning candles were no longer an efficient source of light for home or office. It could have spelt the end, but instead Maison Trudon shifted its focus back to premium scented products, working with perfumeries to achieve memorable, lasting scents.
In subsequent years, the company’s ownership passed through five different families, but it always remained privately owned.
The new five-piece Maison Trudon perfume collection was soft-launched in department stores Bon Marche in France, Harvey Nichols in London and Barneys in New York City, last August, along with the company’s own stores. It waited until after Fashion Week to launch in Hong Kong.
Making its foray into perfumes after 374 years in candles, the company realised it needed to launch with more than one variant.
“We realised that if we had three or five perfumes our displays would be bigger and more visible,” said Herreria.
The company worked with two perfume designers, Antoine Lee and Lyn Harris for three years before the range was complete. The scents are considered niche, decidedly genderless and – from Inside Retail Hong Kong’s experience – bold and brave. Each has a story. For one, Bruma, Lee was blindfolded and led into a Paris museum after closing time and assisted into a relaxed, meditative state by a therapist.
He describes the experience as his “best brief ever” as a perfume creator. The result, in his words: “A noble figure leaves the comfort of her rooms on horseback at night to discover a part of herself in another, nearly super- natural place. Her appearance is evoked by the notes that transcribe her femininity as well as her elevated rank. The rider crosses a clearing, passing from the half-dark into the nocturnal light, shrouded in mystery, enigma and a distinguished sensuality that is almost animal-like. Her beauty is suddenly revealed by a spiritual energy.”
Another of the perfumes, Revolution, by Harris, has a deliberately strong ‘smoky’ scent.
“Revolution captures a moment in history, a period when smells were raw and prevailed everywhere,” explains Harris. “History is alive in this composition where smoke, wood, leather and incense reign. Yet modern elements in the formula let the scent breathe. A form of harmony is born out of these contrasting notes, leaving an elegant, clean, smoky wood-scented backdrop that remains on the skin.”
Each 100ml glass bottle of perfume will retail for about HK$1900.