Top Brands International expands its presence in Colombia


Top Brand's Escentia store in Cartagena just opened at Plaza El Castillo mall

Shoppers can visit Escentia in Bogotá at Centro Comercial Parque La Colina

Top Brands has a new Escentia store at Centro Comercial Parque La Colina in Bogota

Panama-based Top Brands International is preparing the ground to have a bigger and wider footprint in Colombia’s domestic market this year with the establishment of its new chain of stores, Escentia.

Company President Danny Yohoros recently spoke with Americas Duty Free & Travel Retailing, detailing Top Brands' projections for an enhanced presence in Colombia’s booming economy.

The company has already opened Escentia stores at two malls in Bogota: Colina and Parque Central, and in Cartagena at the Castillo mall. Two more Escentia stores will open later this year at Multiplaza La Felicidad in Bogota and in Barranquilla, Yohoros said.

“We will be opening distribution and retail stores in a massive way and all the stores will run under the name of Escentia,” Yohoros said. “This year we will be opening ten to 15 stores and we project we will have 50 stores in Colombia in four years.”

Top Brands seized the opportunity to establish more of a presence in Colombia when the La Rivera chain of stores, which had dominated that country’s domestic perfume market, closed some of its stores last year.

Yohoros said Top Brands had an eye on Colombia for quite some time, but those closures, combined with other circumstances made the moment exactly right. He highlighted the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC that ended decades of war.

He also noted that Colombia has one of Latin America’s largest economies, with a population of nearly 49 million people, the largest Spanish-speaking country in the region. With Colombia at peace, tourism is also booming.

Yohoros said another plus for Top Brands is the fact that Colombian government is lowering the import taxes for perfumes and cosmetics “so it will help to be more competitive with other countries. “This was a new economic opportunity for us,” Yohoros said. “We will have regular stores in shopping centers.”

Top Brands is definitely in expansion mode. Last year, the company acquired Miami-based Image Duty Free, giving the company more duty free stores with more products in more countries.

“To be able to expand into the Caribbean and the US borders (business) you need to be based in Miami,” Yohoros said. “Image Duty Free had the experience for more than ten years. It is a perfect way of doing business, a no-brainer deal.”

However, Yohoros emphasized that although the two businesses are now under one umbrella, each company will maintain its own identity. “We have worked with all the synergies between both companies. We have a huge potential of growth for both,” he said.

Image Duty Free has businesses throughout the Caribbean, with an emphasis on fragrance and cosmetics. Top Brands is a travel retail business with a presence in eight Latin American countries, currently with 50 stores in Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay and Cuba.