Estetica Export has interviewed Tarek Samir, Founder and Chairman of First Cosmetics, a leading distributor of hair professional products and accessories in Egypt as well as an important manufacturer.
Can you introduce your company?
“As distributors, we started in 1998, importing professional hair care products and salon equipment – mainly from Italy. In the same year, we also started our private label factory. Then in 2004, we added the production of our own brands that are designed specifically to offer premium quality to the local market.
Thanks to our success, First-Cosmetics has become the leading organization in the Egyptian market for professional salons.
Our headquarters and factory are located in Cairo, we distribute all our production and imported brands all around Egypt and we also do some export in neighbouring countries like Sudan, Libya, Yemen and other Arab countries in the Middle East.
We are now a well-consolidated company with around 45 salespeople and a huge network of distributors. We have over 350 employees in total, a turnover that reaches 30mil euros/year and our Share in the Egyptian market of hair professional products is over 10%”.
What were the first brands you imported?
“Our very first supplier was HSA from Italy (we still distribute their brands Silky& Eslabondexx), followed soon after by other Italian companies like Oyster and NG Italian Group. We also imported some salon accessories and technical products like Gamma più, for hairdryers; ponzini for hairbrushes; Gimap for scissors; Xanitalia for depilation products, Bergen for hair spray and Sie Depil for the epilation equipment”.
Why do you prefer Italian companies?
“We like Italian brands because they are very well known and boast a long export experience. They also offer top quality at a reasonable price. We do also have some other brands from different countries like Indola from Germany and Andis clippers from USA”.
What about your manufacturing business?
“We have a large offering that goes from professional lines like Hair Way (colouring cream and hair care products), Blob (styling for professional use), skin and body products like Head Way Line (skincare cream), Body way (a full range of shower gel ) and Depi wax (depilation wax – oil after waxing – waxing tissues)”.
How did the pandemic impact Egypt and your business?
“Luckily in Egypt, the pandemic did not hit very hard, we only had a few weeks of lockdown and after 3 to 4 months business recovered quite fast. Only parts of salons closed down and we did reduce our production for a short while, but then regained full potential quickly to satisfy a market that is going pretty well still now”.
Do you mean the market overall is going well in the area?
“I can say the professional hair market is going really well in the Middle East. Of course, the pandemic has had some impact, but mostly on smaller business and the economy seems to be doing well generally speaking”.
What are your plans for the future?
“We’d like to extend our market share in Egypt and also in the Middle East. We are also planning the launch of a new product line: our market is very much influenced by fashion and we need to propose new alternatives to keep the attention high on our brands and attract customers”.
Also with regards to imports?
“Of course, we need to propose new brands to keep up our sales share and improve it. We are also thinking to import some makeup to complete the range of our offer. Not forgetting that my long-term vision is to expand throughout the world becoming a well-known brand”.
What does a brand need to be successful in your market?
“To be honest, we are having successful moments every day because we have a vision and we are working hard to achieve our goals, and I can say we are doing pretty well. However, we are trying to focus more on social media marketing, improving our material to meet consumer requirements, and going through all cities in Egypt to achieve a high level of awareness”.
I understand you believe online activity can help build your business… “Online activity and social media can help any business to engage with customers and find out what people are saying about them.
We are actively committed to our e-commerce: we already have a shop online and we use social media for sales and a lot of marketing activities like attracting customers, getting customer feedback, building customer loyalty, reaching international markets, doing market research and reducing marketing costs, exchange ideas to improve our way to do business and, why not, keep an eye on our competitors”.
The hair and beauty fair season is restarting. How is the situation in your country?
“In Egypt, the situation is stable at the moment, and we can say that all companies are attempting to begin the New Year with new strategies. I believe we will begin planning soon our fair participation starting with Egy Beauty Expo, the Egyptian annual appointment which is always a good chance to launch new ideas and raise awareness”.