Please tell us about your childhood and your academic background.
Frederic Cassin: I spent my childhood in Marseille, South of France and moved to Paris at the age of five. Paris is the world’s capital of fashion, so I was raised in the right place for the beauty industry. I was very young when I got exposed to perfume for the first time, as my father started a perfume business with Molyneux in the 70’s.
Then he set up a skin care treatment company and continued that business for ten years. He sold the company before I completed my studies.
I took a bachelor degree in marketing and completed an MBA in international finance in the USA.
After completing my education, I worked for six months in Canada and then set up my own business in Brazil where I stayed for two years. After that first experience I returned to France where I started a career within the LVMH Group (Kenzo Perfumes and Givenchy Perfumes), until June 2000 when I was General Manager, Asia Pacific and Indian sub-continent.
When I visited Bangladesh in 1998, I saw a great opportunity to open the perfume distribution business there. In 2000 I left LVMH and started my own company, initially called “Kalinga”, working with Bangladesh and India. Over the years we became a group, which by 2013 had 8 subsidiaries across South-East Asia.
In 2013 I sold the group to Coty, a large perfume group, except Bangladesh which I kept as it was my first operation.Basically this is my story.
Why did you become a distributor instead of a manufacturer?
Frederic Cassin: The LVMH group, for which I worked for twelve years, was a manufacturer. In my own business I became a distributor. But now I am both a manufacturer and a distributor. I am a partner of a French perfume manufacturer which has the worldwide licences for the Mauboussin and Façonnable fragrances.
What is your evaluation about the Perfume Industry in Bangladesh?
Frederic Cassin: When I started here, the business was very small but it was rising tremendously – I can’t even calculate it in percentage. It would be multiplying by thousands. Every year lots more people could afford to buy perfume. Now it has grown into a big industry since I started. But the people of Bangladesh love perfume – it can be perfumed deodorants, cheap perfumes, and also selective men’s or women’s perfumes.
What is the market size of this industry and what portion do our local companies dominate?
Frederic Cassin: Basically in the prestige business, the local market is dominated by two companies: one is Bangla Perfume, and the other is BestinBrands. However, the market is also supplied by firms from Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and even America. A lot of products are coming from outside that we do not control. The middle class people in Bangladesh are growing year after year.
Do you have any plan setting a perfume manufacturing plant?
Frederic Cassin: This is not my business as I am not a Bangladeshi. There are many manufacturing hubs in Bangladesh, and the people of Bangladesh are also manufacturing a lot of products. They are very experienced in this field, but this is not my business.
Why are our local products not getting international recognition?
Frederic Cassin: Well, perfume is a dream. When you buy a perfume, you buy a dream. You’re buying beauty, you’re buying experience of very high standards. These standards come from countries where big fashion names are established, like the USA, France, Italy etc.
You’re importing top international brands of perfume in Bangladesh, who are you target customers, and what is the branding policy to take your products to the customers’ doorsteps?
Frederic Cassin: First of all, to sell we need to ensure proper distribution. So what we do first is build luxury presentation furniture and materials in top stores. Then we present our products in the most beautiful and professional way possible. We trained people on our products and how to sell them, how to advise customers on what perfumes can answer their needs, tastes and moods at all times of day. We also advertise our products in different ways such as your magazine and other media. We hold launch events in big hotels. Marketing is very important to sell our products.
BestinBrands always sells costly products, and your products are out of reach of mass people. Do you have any plans to connect mass people to your customer range?
Frederic Cassin: BestinBrands connects to rich people, middle class people and poor people. We do have products retailing from 2$ to 200$. So we do cover all types of customers.
What are your upcoming products and your future plans?
Frederic Cassin: Every year we are adding many new lines and brands to the stores. Our future plan is to continue offering new products which people desire in Bangladesh. There is a huge population in Bangladesh, and we want to bring in selective high-priced products for richer people as well as quality products at small prices for people with less income.
Your message for new comers who are interested to import perfume.
Frederic Cassin: Good luck, it’s hard work, and requires a lot of perseverance.