Ex-SingPost CEO now heads Luxasia

Mr Wolfgang Baier (left) takes over as Group CEO of Luxasia from company founder and chairman Patrick Chong (right).
Mr Wolfgang Baier (left) takes over as Group CEO of Luxasia from company founder and chairman Patrick Chong (right). ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

After months of silence, former Singapore Post boss Wolfgang Baier has re-emerged as the new group chief executive of cosmetics distributor Luxasia.

Luxasia announced the appointment yesterday, ending much market speculation as to where Dr Baier would end up after his surprise resignation from SingPost last December.

His task is to transform the cosmetics distributor into a full-fledged Asian beauty products player with a fresh digital strategy, said company founder and chairman Patrick Chong, who turned over the role of CEO to his successor yesterday.

Luxasia distributes more than a hundred beauty brands to 11 markets across the region, employing about 2,200 staff from Taiwan to Myanmar, including 480 in Singapore.

The firm operates 13 stores here, including two multi-brand Escentials shops, at Paragon and Tangs Orchard, under its retail arm.

Luxasia's new digital focus will help smaller start-ups get their products into Asia through an online platform first, before going the physical route.

Mr Chong has had to turn many of them away simply as they lacked financial muscle. "We are counting very much on Wolfgang's experience and capabilities to get them online," Mr Chong told The Straits Times yesterday.

Dr Baier, 42, said he is excited to start meeting business partners and people on the ground to understand Luxasia's business. "Patrick has already started to think about certain spa applications and having services in addition to the product so that our consumers in the future have a whole ecosystem of beauty at their fingertips," he said.

Dr Baier added that he has made a clear choice to remain in Singapore.

"I've been here for more than 12 years, all my kids are born here, and it was a very conscious decision because I actually travelled the world earlier this year to look around for opportunities and where we would like to live as a family," said the Austrian-born father of three.

Mr Chong did not disclose the company's revenue figures, saying only that the group recorded sales growth in all its markets in the first half of this year even as retail industry margins have come down.

"This is mainly due to the fact that our guys are fairly creative and innovative so we are looking at different ways of selling our products - pop-up stores, corporate sales," he added.

Mr Chong said he is focused on transforming the firm first before considering a share market listing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-SingPost CEO now heads Luxasia'. Print Edition | Subscribe