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INTERVIEW: Emilie Cousteix, Managing Director, Groupe GM Switzerland


World leader of hospitality products, Groupe GM has been housing the most prestigious perfume, cosmetic & spa brands for almost four decades: Azzaro, Caudalie, Clarins, Guerlain, Jo Malone London, Nuxe, Yves Rocher, etc. Present in the most beautiful venues and hotel groups of the planet, the group most accurately elaborates memorable gifts for their hosts. Emilie Cousteix, director of the Swiss subsidiary, explains the group’s values, objectives and increased concern about a responsible production. – Can you present the group?

Emilie Cousteix - Groupe GM, whose name derives from its creator Georges Marchand, was founded in Paris more than 40 years ago, with the aim of becoming a design of exceptional amenity products for hotel establishments. Our world sales network, solely composed of exclusive distributors, allows us to create personalized solutions with the guarantee of a highest quality service. Today, our portfolio includes more than thirty-five brands and a large selection of accessories.

V. J. – What is your customers’ typology?

E. C. – Our customers are hoteliers from all backgrounds, from B&Bs to 5-star hotels, including palaces and alternative housing. The hospital sector, including hospitals and private clinics, also has a strong presence.

V. J. – How does Groupe GM fit within the international offer?

E. C. – Since our beginnings in 1972, we have been building a considerable international presence over the years, and are proud to distribute our products in more than seventy countries. Our sales network now extends from Asia to America and allowed us to gain the trust of an increasing number of hotels all over the world.

V. J. – What is your most important international market?

E. C. – Without hesitation, luxury hospitality, as we mostly propose premium brands. We are also represented in international hotel groups, such as Accor, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, etc.

V. J. – Can you tell us more about your “Care About Earth” programme?

E. C. – We all know that the current largest problem is centered on ecology. As it is a cause that matters to us, we decided to gradually improve our services in this respect. To achieve this, we developed new solutions through a programme named CARE ABOUT EARTH, in particular regarding single-use containers and our Ecopumps, which will be made either out of recycled plastic or of sugar cane by the end of 2020! Later this year, other dispensers will be developed to supplement our green range. Not to mention that over 2020, all accessories (shower caps, cotton buds, etc) will be plastic-free or with a reduced quantity of plastic (the presence of corn starch, for example, decreases the presence of plastic by 30%).

V. J. – This means that your customers’ reaction towards your research has to be very positive.

E. C. – Indeed, it is very positive! With this programme, we can accompany them in all the issues linked to plastic reduction. We are at the heart of this matter and this enables us to reinforce our leader position in amenities.

V. J. – How would you define the relevance of a hospitality product in high-end hospitality?

E. C. – Very important. Amenities are less and less customised in the hotel name and increasingly associated to brands. This is why we work with more than 35 different brands, which all have their own identity. This way, each hotel can propose the very brand corresponding to its positioning and to its customers: green, trendy, luxury, niche, spa... 

V. J. – In your view, what is the key to a successful premium amenity product?

E. C. – The characteristics are many: first of all, obviously, brand notoriety. The design of a hospitality product, details like the stopper or label quality, equally matter. Fragrance and texture are also essential, as they convey many emotions to the customer. Every amenity product takes a guest deep into a different universe, in harmony with the spirit and the values of the establishment.

V. J. – Timeless products (soaps, beauty cases…) are still present, but new products are being added to the offer (telephone cases, cloth bags)… How do you anticipate modern life tendencies and the object which will prove to be essential?

E. C. – Quite true, hospitality products are diversifying. Today, apart from the traditional cosmetic products, establishments turn to other types of accessories: electronic products, bookmarks, eyeglass cloths, Christmas baubles, etc. New trends are showing up!

We are always seeking new ideas, for example in professional fairs and through our supplier network. Customers also contribute to this creative part and bring back products they would like us to produce for them from their trips.

V. J. – How do you combine an establishment’s DNA with a brand image?

E. C. – We offer more than 35 different brands, all with their own identity, so that each hotel can select and propose the brand corresponding to its positioning and customers. Spa brands are booming (Cinq Mondes, Caudalie, Nuxe or Omnisens for example) because hotels are increasingly offering wellness areas. When customers see these products in their room, they are reminded that a spa is present in the hotel and feel the will to visit the place.

V. J. – What is your personal luxury?

E. C. – Nature. I am lucky to live in Switzerland, a country with splendid nature, where lakes and mountains can be enjoyed in the vicinity of agglomerations. I am convinced that working within Groupe GM is a great privilege, as the group defends values for the conservation of the environment that perfectly match mine. This can be felt in our products and is further reinforced in our CARE ABOUT EARTH programme and its innovations for 2020!