Scent of Sweet Success: Maison Berger For All Seasons

Dato Julie is enjoying the sweet smell of success with the official opening of her 19th Maison Berger at Pavilion Bukit Damansara.
by Yvonne Yoong

Dato Julie CC Lim | Law Soo Phye

Success agrees with Dato CC Lim. High society socialite, fashion queen and retailer extraordinaire, her ability to balance style and corporate candour with relative ease places her in a league of her own. Meet the iron lady of retail who is armed with such a charmingly sweet disposition that one cannot resist cheering her on.

Indeed, Dato Julie, who is enjoying the sweet smell of success with the official opening of her 19th Maison Berger at Pavilion Bukit Damansara this October, and just in time for the Yuletide season has every reason to smile.

Living proof that what’s yours will eventually make its way back to you — the wheel in a way, has come full circle for the main distributor of Maison Berger in Malaysia. And, that’s no mean feat considering her long-time love affair with the French brand Lampe Berger Paris by which it was known then when she started as a consumer. This was the case even when she transformed the brand to retail status in 2012.

Changing with the seasons but not its reason for existence, Lampe Berger Paris has undergone a metamorphosis and yet has remained relevant with the times. Today, under her capable supervision of the brand, its coming of age sees it prominently known as Maison Berger Paris.

“Lampe Berger has thus become a core product category overseen by the name of the Maison Berger Paris group. Maison Berger Paris as a parent brand conveys the full extent of its range into other scenting gestures. Also, it’s a name which expresses its history, ‘French-ness’, expertise and heritage,” she told The Peak.

Recalling her “painstakingly long but interesting journey” which involved a tremendous amount of self-belief in the brand, its products and management coupled with her iron-willed perseverance, vision, hard work and team work — not to mention ongoing effort and investments, it has nevertheless been a long labour of love.

Steering the Maison Berger ship as only she can, Lampe Berger Paris which is now known as Maison Berger Paris has a full-grown ambition to shift from an international leadership position on a niche market — that of the Catalysis system to that of a global challenger fronting the growing premium home fragrance market.

For someone as astute as her, this anticipation alone represents both opportunity and responsibility all at once.

Dato Julie CC Lim | Law Soo Phye

“The federating brand makes it possible to encompass a wider offer, (enabling it) to create ranges in line with its DNA while assuring its unity and harmony while maintaining its way to fully meet the challenges in the changing market (as well as evolving) consumer expectations,” she articulated.

“With this, the new brand platform has been developed to also build a more clearly defined architecture for retailers, which is ‘more modern’ and has a greater impact for consumers.”

And, while all these sounds poetic to the ears, no one but Dato Julie knows that with great opportunities come great demand for responsibility.

Overseeing 18 outlets nationwide with its 19th outlet being unveiled just last October in the prime Pavilion Bukit Damansara shopping mall which is ripe for the picking post-pandemic, her sheer iron will for survival is apparent. In fact, under her, Maison Berger not only managed to emerge relatively unscathed from the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Not only that but its home fragrance range experienced an unprecedented boost in sales as demand for pure air quality was at an all-time high during the crisis.

Sharing on her latest pride and joy, she shared how excited she is to be part of the diverse tenant mix with her 19th Maison Berger Paris store in Pavilion Bukit Damansara of which she is looking forward to work on its new image and concept.

Touching on the secret behind her successful streak of which she is grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with most major malls in the country, she believes this 19th outlet in Pavilion Bukit Damansara is the brand’s newest crowing jewel. Given its coveted proximity nearby surrounding elite neighbourhoods such as Bangsar, Mont Kiara as well as Damansara Heights and Bukit Tunku, this most prominent address resides at the heart of connectivity with immersive experiences, making it an ultimate shopping destination.

After all, the stalwart of entrepreneurship knows full well that identifying a good location or address is crucial for any business.

Not one to suffer fools gladly, though grateful for the ongoing success, she realises that one pertinent lesson that has held her in good stead throughout the years is to not take anything for granted.

“For over 125 years, Maison Berger Paris has been taking care of our indoor air, embellishing and perfuming our everyday life to contribute to our inner well-being. My passion and belief for the brand and its products remain strong. In order to succeed in retail, one has to understand the dynamics, have the vision and be able to see the bigger picture. One has to also be prepared to ride the tides, persevere and to build in a manner worthy of the good name of the brand that had spanned over a century.

She added that this is building upon the foundation of the brand while the underlining benefits of the products speak for itself.

“As the slogan goes, we pride ourselves as ‘an unrivalled power in air purification and air perfuming’ so staying focussed, defining growth strategies and positioning the brand well are crucial criteria needed to move forward,” she added.

Remaining Relevant With The Times

Dato Julie CC Lim | Law Soo Phye

According to her, Maison Berger Paris has continually been staying relevant in the age of the digital transformation by transforming their processes, delivery models and in overall approaches to business in an effort to adapt to the constant changes.

An awareness of the need to be updated with technological capabilities to ensure the organisation’s success by staying focused but flexible and adaptable are key survival strategies.

The near future looks optimistic for Dato Julie.

“We are looking forward to the new Maison Berger Paris store in Pavilion Bukit Damansara as it is set to be the flagship store of Maison Berger Malaysia,” she shared.

“Our principal is involved in assisting with the store designs & floor plan depicting the flagship store in Paris. The store is set to bring better shopping experiences for our customers as there will be more engaging marketing materials to enhance the scenting experiences and usage of our products.”

The best gift of all, in time for the Yuletide Season celebration.

Up, close and personal with Dato Julie CC Lim

Looking back at all you’ve gone through, what is the most important lesson You’ve walked away with?

Never to sit on my laurels.

What does it take to succeed in the competitive retail arena?

Commitment, adaptability, versatility, creativity besides possessing the tenacity to meet the challenges of rising operational costs.

What do you consider is your best success thus far? Is there anything you would have done differently, looking back?

My personal success is based on my astuteness in both business and other investments. I honestly make more money in my other investments than in my retail business. But it is through the lessons learned from my retail experiences that has taught me a great deal of what it takes to diversify.

Any regrets?

I have no regrets and even though it is a pain sometimes to deal with operating issues, I’m still stuck in retail, something I regard as what I do best.

The pandemic was a tough and unprecedented time. But for Maison Berger, did the sales soar? Can you give an indication in terms of numbers or sales percentage?

In spite of the pandemic, I have successfully expanded a few stores and carried out revamping for a some of my stores which were planned before. Fortunately, Maison Berger Malaysia has experienced a sustainable business throughout the pandemic. To me, sustainability in a critical time during & after the pandemic is profitability.

What can be expected from this newest store?

Amongst the many new collections, there will be “Signature Lampes” or Lampe Berger “Art Editions” inspired by world-renowned designers and artisans who are associated with Cristal de Baccarat, Porcelaine de Limoges, Daum, Hermes, Christofle, Lolita Lempicka and the latest collaboration with the world-renowned Philippe Starck. These “Art Editions” have shared missions to transform and enhance the Maison Berger spirit of the “Pure Art of Living”.

What is your favourite range under Maison Berger?

The Lampe Berger Art Editions, of course!

I have a personal collection of these beautiful Signature pieces in my home in which each piece is a unique work of art that makes a statement and a conversation piece. Fashioned by craftsmen with unique know-how, the finest authentic materials are used to create the “Art Editions” in order to produce remarkable technical performances. Exceptional from their design to their production, the “Art Editions” carry the signature of the greatest names in contemporary design. These world- renowned designers operating with different sensibilities, express their freedom of creation, inspiringly transcending shapes and materials to reveal the Berger Lampes that are strikingly beautiful, full of emotion and are imbued with a unique personality.

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