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INTERVIEW - LAURENT MARCHAND, CEO GROUPE GM: "WE SELL PRODUCTS THAT MAKE PEOPLE DREAM, AN EMOTION THAT PROVIDES GUESTS WITH A PRIVILEGED EXPERIENCE" (France)

“Our mission is to provide our customers with the assets they need to enable them to pamper their guests using exclusive, top-quality hospitality products and innovative, environmentally friendly solutions developed by our experts.”

INTERVIEW - LAURENT MARCHAND, CEO GROUPE GM: "WE SELL PRODUCTS THAT MAKE PEOPLE DREAM, AN EMOTION THAT PROVIDES GUESTS WITH A PRIVILEGED EXPERIENCE" (France)

“Our mission is to provide our customers with the assets they need to enable them to pamper their guests using exclusive, top-quality hospitality products and innovative, environmentally friendly solutions developed by our experts.”

Category: Europe - France - Suppliers - Providers - Interviews
Interview made by Christopher Buet on 2023-06-08


The devil is in the detail, and detail is not an issue in luxury hotels, where everything is designed to offer guests the finest and most exquisite experience possible. A bed made to measure, impeccably folded towels or even bottles of cosmetics. While these things may seem obvious today, this was not the case 50 years ago, when hoteliers gave little matchboxes with their logo.

Then, in 1972, tired of having access only to a miserable 15g soap in a small paper case for his toilet, Georges Marchand had the idea of changing things and bringing added value to hotels. His idea was to offer a real range of cosmetic products. “My father quickly realised that this was the ideal opportunity for hotels to convey their brand image through a tangible and useful object”, reveals Laurent Marchand, who now heads Groupe GM with his brother François. The founder teamed up with a number of well-known brands, including Lancôme (L'Oréal), to create the concept of a hospitality product.

It didn't take long for the concept to catch on, and the number of partnerships grew, so that today the French company distributes almost 50 brands. However, Groupe GM doesn't just work with others, it also has unique design expertise and produces its own bespoke ranges for luxury hotels and major hotel groups. It's a way of further personalising the customer experience.

This is the case with the Damana collection, designed by Laurent Marchand himself. On the shores of the Mediterranean, he was captivated by the atmosphere and the local produce. This gave him the idea of condensing its sensations, scents, and benefits into a range of cosmetics.

After two decades, Groupe GM's CEO is bringing his “baby” up-to-date, with a level of exacting standards further enhanced by the company's commitment to eco-responsibility. This was an opportunity for the Journal des Palaces to meet this nature lover and to understand the philosophy behind the work of the company's 250 employees and the design of increasingly virtuous hospitality products, with the ambition of helping to reduce the sector's ecological footprint.

Journal des Palaces : You recently relaunched the Damana range of hospitality products. Why did you make this choice?

Laurent Marchand : Twenty years ago, I fell under the spell of the Mediterranean region and the fruits of its soil. This motivated me to create and offer products that respect and reproduce nature's bounty. The name of this brand is a tribute to my three children, using the first syllables of their first names. This line has a sentimental dimension for me. Since 2003, Damana has been a resounding success, ranking in our top 10. To tell you a little anecdote, the visuals for Damana Terre & Soleil were shot in our family home in Corsica.

Simplicity, authenticity and joy have been at the heart of what Damana does best since the very beginning. The brand has strived to continually reinvent itself throughout its history, adhering to its fundamental principles and maintaining a high level of quality in each of its ranges.

What image do you want to convey through this historic line? How have you reinvented them?

The Damana ranges are based on the authenticity and diversity of ingredients of natural origin, and on a passion for well-being, effectiveness and respect for the environment. By revamping this signature product line, we are continuing our efforts to minimize the impact of the hotel industry on the planet.

More generally, what is your philosophy, and what are the values upheld by GM and its products?

Creativity, quality, innovation, ecology, reliability, and a sense of service are the pillars of our group and are at the heart of our daily commitment. Our mission is to provide our customers with the tools they need to pamper their guests using exclusive, top-quality hospitality products and innovative, environmentally friendly solutions developed by our experts.

Our local distributors in Europe, and in other strategic countries around the world, enable us to have a shorter supply chain and offer our customers customised solutions with the guarantee of impeccable local service, while helping to reduce Groupe GM's overall environmental impact.

How are your products designed?

We work hand in hand with our partner brands to develop our hospitality product lines. The formulation is fully managed and coordinated with the cosmetics policies of the various groups we work with. Our formulas contain up to 99% ingredients of natural origin, or may be Cosmos-certified organic by Cosmecert They can be vegan, GMO-free and gluten-free and certified as such. All formulas are dermatologically tested. Our products comply with European regulations applicable to cosmetics, guaranteeing product traceability and customer safety.

Our products are eco-designed, and their dispensers are made from responsible materials, such as bio-sourced plastic from sugar cane residues and recycled plastic.

One of our objectives is to eliminate single-use plastics and materials derived from fossil fuels wherever possible, and always favour responsible and sustainable alternatives.

A philosophy that accompanies you from one end of the chain to the other with concrete solutions.

We are developing innovative high-capacity products such as Ecofill, the dispenser that combines filling and traceability. It's a clean, safe, fast and easy-to-use solution, with minimal impact on the environment. Its 300 and 400 ml sealed pouches offer low-impact packaging, made with just 8g of plastic, and guarantee total traceability of formulas.

Our latest large-format innovation is the Ghost dispenser mounted on a hidden rail that gives the impression that the product is levitating. This ingenious, eco-designed dispenser with a large 400 ml capacity is made from sugar cane and lasts for around 40 days. The system is safe and easy to use. For added convenience, hotel staff can check how much product is left thanks to a discreet viewing window. Its pumps are all sealed to guarantee the origin of the product.

By choosing eco-design, we offer hoteliers sustainable solutions and support them in their transition to environmentally friendly practices.

You seem to want to pay particular attention to the responsible and ecological nature of your products. You've even set up a Care About Earth programme. Can you tell us more?

Through the Care About Earth programme, we have launched a number of sustainable initiatives that reflect our desire to be as environmentally aware and respectful as possible. Groupe GM's Care About Earth programme aims to reduce the impact of our products on the environment and to contribute to sustainable development, to protect the planet for future generations.

One of the main pillars of the Care About Earth programme is eco-design, with the use of more responsible materials and the integration of larger formats. It also means doing everything we can to reduce our environmental impact at every stage in the development of our products. We work with industrial partners who are committed to respecting our planet and have numerous environmental certifications.

Our factories are ISO 22716, 14001 and 9001 certified, and follow good manufacturing practice, guaranteeing quality and compliance worldwide. They also make every effort to minimize their environmental impact by optimizing logistics solutions, water and energy consumption, recycling waste, limiting over-packaging and using clean technologies.

More recently, we have been working to shorten the supply chain and reduce our environmental footprint by repatriating a large part of our packaging manufacturing to Europe.

We remain committed to meeting the highest standards in terms of the environment, labour and human rights, ethics and sustainable sourcing.

Which prestigious establishments do you work with?

Our customers are independent hotels, palaces, guest houses, or members of large prestigious international chains, including Mandarin Oriental, Accor, Louvre Hotels Group, InterContinental Hotels Group and Four Seasons, where Groupe GM offers brands such as Guerlain, Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, Atelier Cologne, Codage and Le Petit Prince.

Our hospitality products are also distributed on board cruises and by several airlines. In the background, there is a growing demand for these products in certain care organisations, such as luxury clinics.

We sell products that make people dream, an emotion that provides a privileged experience for the guest. The aim is to create a sense of wonder. We give hotels the pleasure of offering the best products to their guests, the opportunity to pamper and cocoon them.

Over the years, how have you perceived the changing expectations and requirements of the hotels and groups you work with?

The industry landscape has changed radically in recent years. The most important development is the growing demand for eco-responsible products and services.

During the past fifty years, our greatest challenges and successes have been to continue to make our customers and their guests dream, while always knowing how to adapt. We've done this by expanding our network and working with new brands, but also by adapting our products. While our adventure began with soaps and small bottles, today we can also offer innovative large-capacity dispensers.

What do you bring to the hotels that call on you?

We provide hotels with a signature for their properties, a unique hospitality product that reflects their values and all the attention they pay to the comfort of their guests. Groupe GM offers product ranges that reflect their image, perfectly adapted to their needs while respecting nature. Our unique portfolio of brands, combined with our exceptional expertise in tailor-made creations, enables us to offer our customers an unlimited choice of products.

Our sales network is made up of our subsidiaries and our exclusive partners, true hospitality professionals who offer our customers impeccable, personalized local service. Thanks to this network, we are now the trusted partner of a growing number of hotels around the world.

What are your next development projects?

Our short- and medium-term ambition is to successfully establish ourselves in the United States, one of the world's largest hotel markets, where we have opened a warehouse and a new operations site in Hallandale, Florida. We plan to invest heavily in the coming years. At the same time, we will continue our development in Asia, focusing on China, a fast-growing market for Groupe GM.

In addition to our Care About Earth programme, which is at the heart of our current activities, we also plan to develop collaborations with new internationally renowned brands. We have just teamed up with the organic cosmetics brand Huygens and the Italian lifestyle fashion house Trussardi. These collaborations enable us to continue to offer our hotel guests around the world a unique and privileged experience through quality products.

What is your vision of luxury?

For me, luxury means being immersed in a unique atmosphere. It's the care and precision that goes into everything because it's these small details that make the difference when it comes to creating memorable and magical moments for hotel guests.

About the author

A journalist with many skills and an ever curious traveller, Christopher has a great attraction for carefully refined hotels, where characterful gastronomy, impeccable service and sincere elegance go hand in hand. A discreet and gourmet pen at the service of a certain idea of luxury.


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