Estee Lauder Appoints Karen Housman to Grow Robust in Travel Retail

The Estée Lauder Companies designated Karen Housman as Senior Vice President/General Manager Travel Retail Asia Pacific to drive growth and profitability within ELC’s travel retail business across the Asia Pacific. The travel retail market in the Asia Pacific, particularly in Hainan, China, performed well in the first two months of this year.

The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) stated that it has appointed Karen Housman as Senior Vice President/General Manager Travel Retail Asia Pacific, effective 1 July.

Housman will report directly to The Estée Lauder Companies President, Commercial Travel Retail Worldwide Javier Simon. She will be based in Singapore.

Housman joined the ELC Travel Retail team in 2017. She is currently a member of the Travel Retail Leadership Team and was most recently La Mer and Le Labo Senior Vice President/General Manager Travel Retail Worldwide.

Her responsibilities will include driving growth and profitability within ELC’s travel retail business across the Asia Pacific, building on the company’s Asian consumer retailer relationships. She will oversee a portfolio of brands as well as a team of change agents to build on and capture new opportunities within the region while delivering best-in-class consumer experiences.

She will also leverage ELC’s strong retailer relationships and high brand awareness to drive growth and profitability in the key Asia Pacific region as travel returns.

During her most recent role, she helped La Mer reach fourth ranking in the skincare category globally, based in New York. Since joining the company’s travel retail division in January 2017, her brand portfolio has undergone considerable acceleration and growth.

She also launched niche fragrance brand Le Labo in key locations in the Middle East, North America, Asia Pacific, and the UK travel retail. Thanks to her leadership, Le Labo is currently one of the fastest-growing brands in ELC’s travel retail portfolio.

Moreover, Housman is a passionate supporter of sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. She is a Sustainability Champion within ELC’s Travel Retail Division and has progressed several sustainable projects in the region.

Housman was previously Vice President of Marketing at Amorepacific US before joining ELC. In this role, she led the marketing and communication strategies for the Amorepacific, Sulwhasoo, and Laneige brands. Before this, she spent 16 years in Chanel holding various management positions in the US and the Asia Pacific.

The Estée Lauder Companies Global President Travel Retail Worldwide Israel Assa commented, “With over 20 years experience in the beauty industry in both travel retail and local markets, her deep knowledge of luxury skincare and fragrance, store design, sales, and marketing, along with her keen understanding of international business and our key Asian consumers, Karen is uniquely positioned to lead Travel Retail’s APAC region to continued success,”

“Karen is a highly respected professional across the beauty industry with a track record of building innovative teams who continually set the bar for excellence,” added Simon. “In addition, with her strong retailer relationships and deep understanding of consumer behavior, I look forward to seeing how she will steer the Travel Retail Asia Pacific region to capture the next generation of growth.”

In Estee Lauder’s financial report of Q3 in FY2020, it stated that its global travel retail net sales increased double digits, reflecting continued growth from Asia/Pacific. However, additional travel restrictions late in the third quarter of fiscal 2022 led to reduced travel, particularly to Hainan, China.

Although current control for the prevention of pandemics is remained in China, travel retail in Hainan, China still boasts great potential.

Customs of Sanya released a news release saying that since the implementation of Hainan’s duty-free shopping policy in 2011, the customs have supervised the sales of duty-free products in Sanya City on the outlying islands exceeding $15.523 billion, and the number of shoppers exceeding 17 million. At present, the number of duty-free stores in Sanya has increased from one to four, the duty-free shopping limit has increased from $786 to $15,723 per person, and the number of duty-free goods filed by Customs has exceeded 710,000 pieces.

According to statistics, in the first two months of this year, the total sales of Hainan’s 10 duty-free stores on the outlying islands exceeded $2.022 billion, an increase of 33% year on year. Among them, duty-free sales amounted to $1.877 billion, up 38% year on year. The number of duty-free shoppers was 2.1266 million, up 36% year-on-year and the number of duty-free purchasing goods was 12.623 million pieces, up 53% year-on-year.

In April this year, Tapestry Group, which owns the Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman brands, is all set to place the headquarters for its China travel retail business in Hainan.

The president of Tapestry Asia Pacific and CEO of Coach China, Yann Bozec, said: “The Hainan market continues to see vigorous momentum. The launch of our China travel retail headquarters here is an important milestone marking the beginning of our travel retail business in China.” Bozec added that he expected to enter “a new chapter of rapid development” by advancing relationships with more retail partners on the island, the number of which has steadily increased.




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