Amyris’ President of International Discusses His Growth Strategy & Weighs in on Global Trends

January 17, 2023

Lee Tappenden on building a team from the ground up, Amyris’ strategy for growth, and global trends influencing the industry

Lee Tappenden, President of International, joined Amyris in 2022, bringing 25 years of experience in the retail industry across Europe, Asia, and North America. Tappenden came to Amyris from Walmart where he served as President and Chief Executive Officer, Walmart Canada, after holding several global leadership roles with the company, including Chief Merchandising Officer with Walmart Japan and Vice President of Merchandising for the International Division.

Tappenden has a proven track record of delivering results within highly competitive and innovative retail markets and a wealth of experience in operational and C-Suite roles across supply chain, store operations, and commercial functions with full end to end accountability.

In this week’s blog, he speaks to building a team from the ground up, Amyris’ strategy for growth, and global trends influencing the industry.

Tell us about building the Amyris International team. 

I could not be more thrilled with the team that I have recruited.

They are a group of beauty industry specialists who have worked with multiple leading premium beauty brands across the U.K. and Europe. They have a strong commercial background as well as expertise in building brands profitably through strong consumer awareness, engagement, and loyalty campaigns.

With our brand teams we will forge strategic retail partnerships jointly focused on driving long-term sustainable growth and we will complement these partnerships with our brand building and targeted direct-to-consumer site launches in 2023.

We’ve hit the ground running by achieving impressive results in the last year and are incredibly excited for the future.

What brought you to Amyris? 

Firstly, and most importantly, I have a personal alignment to the mission of Amyris. A passion for bringing clean sustainable products to consumers around the world who, despite low consumer confidence and concerns of inflation, are deepening their commitment to personal health and wellbeing, as well as a sustainable planet.

We are developing and manufacturing sustainable ingredients as the building blocks in all our brands and products. But Amyris was also appealing to me because of its unique technology and platform — it is so much more than a house of brands or a clean beauty company. The fact that Amyris develops ingredients and molecules from the R&D stage all the way up to production at an incredible scale and that it is able to do so in a sustainable way — that is something I was eager to be a part of and help grow.

The precision fermentation process — converting yeast and ethically grown and harvested sugarcane into molecules bio-identical to those found in nature — that is incredible. Amyris is truly leading the way for the beauty industry to become THE leader in the path toward sustainable consumption.

The vertical integration strategy of our manufacturing plant and the way we are able to expand and grow and control our supply chain really differentiates Amyris from other companies.

Amyris is in a unique position. And customers know they can trust that all our brands in the Amyris family of consumer brands offer clean, sustainable, high-performance products for whatever stage of life they are at — that sets us apart from our competitors.

Describe Amyris’ international growth strategy and why we are expanding into Europe.  

At Amyris, we have seen significant consumer demand across the critical global markets for clean, sustainable health and beauty products. And we know clean beauty is growing at nearly double the rate of the rest of beauty.

In 2020, the global market value for clean beauty was valued at around 5.4 billion U.S. dollars. It is estimated to reach $22 billion by 2024 and roughly 59 billion dollars by 2031.

Amyris has built an incredibly successful and long-term relationship with Sephora in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, and New Zealand. We saw tremendous opportunities to work with them to optimize this partnership and expand our reach in the U.K., as well as northern and western Europe.

We have also partnered with select retailers, including SpaceNK, Selfridges, Harrods, and Cult Beauty in the U.K. We recently launched in Douglas (the leading beauty retailer in Germany) where 71% of German consumers say it is worrying to think about the world they are leaving behind for future generations. We believe that will be a great market for us.

Our ambition is to have our sales split equally across both online and in-store in the U.K. and Europe.

We believe accessibility — both from a price perspective and a brick-and-mortar perspective — is key to growth.  The in-store presence of our retail partners is a key discovery space, particularly for Gen Z consumers.

We also launched the Rose Inc direct-to-consumer website in the U.K. to provide even more access for customers. More than 40% of U.K. consumers report agreeing that direct-to-consumer brands have a more personal connection with customers than traditional brands, but research is also showing that, post-pandemic, consumers are eager to be back in stores, especially if it is an interactive experience.

How is the European customer responding to sustainable clean beauty products? 

Purpose-driven consumers — people who choose brands based on how well those brands align with their values — now represent the largest segment (44%) of global consumers across all major product categories.

Millennials and in particular Gen Z consumers are leading the way — they are setting the new agenda for corporate sustainability and climate and emerging trends. And they share our ethos of ‘no compromise.’ They demand products that are sustainable and ethically sourced, but also effective.

Outside of the U.S. and in particular the U.K. and Europe, there has been a heightened sense of awareness of sustainability for some time. Consumers have already adopted a more sustainable lifestyle and it is already very much part of everyday life. They have a commitment to sustainability, social impact, and environmental responsibility.  They are looking for brands and products that deliver on their claims and are authentic.

With sustainability being the common thread running through all our brands we can answer their needs authentically. Our best-in-class direct to consumer experience drives education and delivers on our promise of delivering sustainable, high-performance products that are good for people and the planet.

We are proud of the growth that we’ve achieved to date, and we have already seen an incredible response from our international customers and our partners.

What are your key priorities for 2023? 

We are incredibly excited about 2023. We will double-down on our existing top brands in the U.K. (Biossance, JVN, and Rose Inc) and expand them into northern and western Europe. We want to drive brand awareness across the region with the right strategic retail partners. We have been encouraged by the launch of Biossance in Germany with Douglas and the expansion of our brands will further strengthen Amyris position in the European beauty market.

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