Global cosmetics brand Mary Kay ends Australian operations

Global cosmetics company Mary Kay has closed its operations in Australia and New Zealand, saying it no longer sees “a sustainable future in either market”.

Mary Kay has been operating in Australia for close to 50 years, and in New Zealand for 30 years. The company was founded in Dallas, Texas in 1963 and opened its first international subsidiary in Australia in 1971.

The company relied on a multi-level marketing model whereby independent ‘beauty consultants’ sold Mary Kay cosmetics in their local communities, but were not employees of the company.

In 2018, Mary Kay had a global independent sales force of more than 3.5 million people in 40 countries, and global revenue of US$3.6 billion ($5.6 billion), according to Forbes.

In a statement posted on the company’s Australian website, Mary Kay said the decision to close its local operations was not made lightly.

“However, a combination of market conditions across Australia and New Zealand are such that the business does not see a sustainable future in either market,” the company said.

“Mary Kay will be focusing on its core growth markets across the globe”.

The company said its staff and independent sales consultants had been informed of the closures in advance, and it will accept returned products from sales consultants until April 6.

“Mary Kay is grateful for the dedication and support of its employees and independent sales force members through the years,” said the company.

“Mary Kay also thanks its customers who have shown love and support towards its products since it launched in Australia nearly fifty years ago and in New Zealand thirty years ago.”

The closure of Mary Kay’s Australian and New Zealand operations comes after fellow door-to-door cosmetics company Avon withdrew from the local market in 2018, having operated in Australia since 1963.

In February 2018, when Avon announced its withdrawal, the company reportedly had more than 200 staff and 21,000 representatives in Australia and New Zealand.

Speaking to the ABC, retail expert Dr Gary Mortimer said the beauty and cosmetics market had experienced fundamental shifts in the time since Avon and Mary Kay were founded.

“People aren’t at home waiting for a knock on the door, we don’t wait for that catalogue to arrive — those days are long gone,” he said.

“The younger market are now looking at emerging, exciting brands like Mecca or Sephora, or those types of brands where there is an experience involved in the purchase of makeup — like make-up classes or blogs.

“There is a lot more of a digital element in the purchase of make-up and cosmetics.”

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