Japan beauty brand Pola looks overseas to tap post-COVID travel boom

TOKYO – Japanese beauty supplier Pola Orbis Holdings recently opened tax-free stores in Australia and Vietnam, and plans for another in Malaysia to capture demand from the anticipated upswing in tourism from pandemic lows.

Subsidiary Pola set up shop at a Lotte Duty Free store that opened in Sydney last month. The entire establishment spans 3,000 sq. Ft. meters and houses over 150 brands. The location is due to launch full-scale operations in August.

Pola started with 22 sq. M. meters of space for eight products, including from its BA high-end beauty brand. Prices mostly range from 10,000 yen to 30,000 yen ($ 75 to $ 227).

There are plans to expand the lineup in Sydney to 20 products. The location is expected to draw tourists from China. Demand is projected from a wide spectrum of customers, from people 40 and over to exchange students in their late teens.

Pola has opened roughly 40 tax-free stores spanning in several Asian countries, including its home market of Japan.

Also in May, Pola opened a tax-free shop inside Da Nang International Airport in Vietnam. The location has about 40 products, including those from the BA, White Shot and Wrinkle Shot brands. Prices range from 10,000 yen to just over 20,000 yen.

Pola plans to open an outlet at an Isetan department store in Kuala Lumpur next month. The location will sell approximately 60 products from the same roster of brands.

The turn toward opening tax-free stores overseas stems from the expected recovery of air travel after a two-year pandemic slump. The year 2024 will see 4 billion passengers take flight, according to the International Air Transport Association, which would outpace the pre-COVID year of 2019 by 3%.

The removal of border restrictions will likely unleash a strong resurgence of a travel demand.

To date, Pola has opened roughly 40 tax-free stores spanning markets such as China, South Korea, Singapore and back home in Japan. The additional locations will help boost product awareness and expand sales.

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