The Molton Brown story began in 1971 as a hair salon at 58 South Molton Street in London and it has grown ever since to become an icon of unique British style. In this interview, we sit down with the company’s Global President Mark Johnson to discuss how the pandemic has evolved the business and what the focus is moving forward.

Passionate about quality and treasuring the world around them, Molton Brown source only the best ingredients in exceptional fragrance concentrations so that their customers can discover long-lasting fragrances that uplift, refresh or unwind their senses.
As pioneers of positive luxury, the quality the business produces has seen them awarded with a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Today the company possesses an international presence with 70 stores around the world, with 55 positioned in the UK, 10 in the Middle East, three in the US, one in Japan and one in Italy. The business, acquired by Kao Corporation in 2005, also work with a number of luxury partners in both physical and digital doors in countries across Europe and South Africa, with more to come.
In terms of their existing store portfolio, this year they have relocated and renovated their Belfast and Newcastle stores as well as launching in Spain through the distributor Isolée and department store El Cortes Inglés. “We’re particularly delighted with the Belfast store as it is the second that is designed with our new concept – a contemporary twist on our original 1970s Mayfair salon, with woven rattan textures, British furnishing and flourishing plants. It’s a humble homage to our founders, who were pioneers in positive luxury and carries on their legacy of creating inviting, immersive experiences,” says Mark Johnson, CEO of Molton Brown.

Bluewater IMG_5608 (Nov 21)
Bluewater Shopping Centre, Kent, UK

They are also busy finishing plans for Russia; which presents a compelling new opportunity for Molton Brown to build on current brand awareness from their hotel amenities business. “There is a strong appetite for fragrance there, which is a leading category for us. We will also have the chance to explore Israel as we opened in Tel Aviv airport earlier this year and are proud to be the chosen amenities provider for the Brown Hotel group in the region.”
The pandemic has fast-tracked opportunities for physical locations in the Middle East, Greece and Italy. At the same time, the brand is excited to roll out a new e-commerce platform across their distributor estate, with Greece, Cyprus and Italy already in place and Spain and South Africa set to be added next year. The challenges of Covid-19 have assisted in refocusing the brand’s digital strategies and investment to allow them to maintain pace with changing customer habits.
“Covid-19 has certainly transformed the way we think and we are carefully continuing our global expansion with some exciting plans in the pipeline,” explains Johnson. “We are thrilled to have launched on Tmall Global in the last year while capitalising on the existing awareness in the market and attachment to the brand through Chinese travellers and our travel retail channel.”
For a heritage brand like Molton Brown, customer relevance has always been front and centre. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year has given the brand an opportunity to look back to their roots and evaluate what this means for their future, ensuring a strategic focus on always being more sustainable and reducing their plastic footprint.

Last year Molton Brown launched their Refillable collection, which features reusable Hand Wash glass bottles and Refill pouches in the brand’s iconic fragrances. The brand has also started to make plastic bottles with 50 per cent polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and their ‘Return. Recycle. Reward.’ scheme has been made available for all UK stores – each of their commitments has an underlying devotion to doing good for the planet while making customers feel good at the same time. When discussing social media, Johnson explains that part of the strategy is forging strong and meaningful relationships with influencers, who have over time, become both friends of the brand and ambassadors that their audiences can trust. He goes on to say that it is something they are focusing on for each market at different paces, but that it has to be done with authenticity and transparency – they make sure to work with people who share the same values as them.

Milan SAS-6 (Nov 21)
Milan, Italy

“We are driven by new, innovative content creation, building on the wonderful relationship between customers and our incredibly passionate store teams. We know the lines between digital and physical shoppers are blurring and we want to engage with our fans at every turn,” explains Johnson.
“The beauty industry is at a turning point. We all have a responsibility to make conscious changes that preserve the resources of the planet. Of course, we can’t change the world on our own, so we need to work together and start from somewhere. As a luxury British brand, we are truly inspired to witness the whole industry adopting more sensitive practices internally and externally, keeping us relevant and aware of the world around us,” concludes Johnson.