When Sofia Radomska was appointed Managing Director of Oriflame UK in 2014, it was a critical time for the business. During the decade leading up to her appointment, the Swedish cosmetics company’s UK branch had experienced significant challenges and faced an uncertain future. Changing their main selling tool had created confusion and disappointment on the lower level of their beauty consultants which represented a big portion of their sales figures. To overcome the many challenges, a new strategy was needed.
The Link met with Sofia to discuss the challenges they faced, what they did to overcome them and how they managed to turn around the development of Oriflame UK in just five years.
Regaining the trust of the sales force
Due to the many years of decline, Oriflame’s beauty consultants were lacking trust, energy and loyalty towards the company. It was crucial to have them on board, so regaining their trust became Sofia’s first task. Sofia and her team knew that they were stepping into a sinking boat, but that they could be able to save it - if they did it together. Sofia says: “I often refer to a rowing boat. When one person stops rowing, then the whole boat gets heavier and it becomes an unfair strain to the rest of the team who have to row harder.”
A lot of sacrifices had to be made - cost savings, longer work days, hard work - but they were necessary in order to turn the business around. “I think it is much easier to start a new company than to turn-around a mature, declining one. People don’t like changes, they’re uncomfortable – but it is a great challenge to lead people through the changes and see how things turn better”, says Sofia. Recognising every milestone on Oriflame’s journey was extremely important, and they celebrated every small sales increase and every small progress together. They have also introduced a much stronger business opportunity for their beauty consultants by making changes to their renumeration plan, hoping that people will be more interested in joining Oriflame and explore what they are offering.
Rebranding Oriflame as a modern company
Given the company’s old roots, another task was rebranding Oriflame as a modern company in order to increase sales. “We often hear ‘my Grandmother used to sell Oriflame’. But we’re not the same as we were fifty years ago. This perception is ours to challenge,” says Sofia. They invested heavily in brand building and PR, adapted more to modern trends and continued to innovate their products - all with the aim of changing people’s lives for the better. Investing in PR and branding has helped them to not only spread awareness about their products but also to showcase the business opportunities that Oriflame offers, which is done by sharing real success stories from people working with Oriflame across the UK.
Investing in digital tools reduced costs and increased productivity
Oriflame UK is part of Oriflame’s Global Digital Innovation Lab where new tools have been developed to help produce better conversion rates to the first order, better retention and higher productivity. By investing in strong, industry-leading digital tools they were able to completely stop all production of local print material apart from their core selling tool, the Oriflame catalogue, which significantly reduced costs, increased engagement with the beauty consultants and served their large focus on sustainability. To stay competitive, she says, digital tools must help your sales force work smarter - speed and efficiency is everything. “Now, we are known to be among the top players offering the best digital tools in the industry.”
Turning the boat around
The biggest challenge was, and still is, competition. Britain is the main gateway to Europe for all American direct selling companies. Establishing a business in the UK is easy, and newcomers frequently enter the market with excitement and big promises.This pushes Oriflame to stay competitive. But by transforming the business, the performance for Oriflame UK has now started to improve. Celebrating 50 years in 2020, they are hosting a jubilee with 4,000 people invited to the ceremony.
When asked what she has learned during her time as Managing Director, Sofia says: “With the right strategy, clear goals, the right people and hard work, you can turn around the business even under the most challenging circumstances”
Founded in Stockholm in 1967 by Jonas and Robert af Jochnick, and their friend, Bengt Hellsten. The first product range initially consisted of skin creams, lipstick and mascara – all skin care products were based on herb and plant extracts from Sweden. Oriflame was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1982. Oriflame is present in over 60 markets with over 3 million independent Beauty Consultants.