The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) have enjoyed spectacular growth over the past decade.

The COVID-19 crisis has strongly affected the multinational’s fortunes, but year-on-year net sales dipped in single digits – 4 per cent – to US$14.29 billion for its 2020 fiscal year.

The biggest drop came in the fourth quarter. Net sales for Q4 fell 32 per cent to US$2.43 billion by contrast to US$3.5 billion for the same period in 2019.

Skincare was a major strength in the first half of the year, with sales surging 26 per cent.

Makeup, fragrance and hair care saw declines of between 11 per cent and 17 per cent in the first six months of 2020.

Triple digit growth in online sales in every geographic region significantly buoyed ELC during the coronavirus pandemic.

A pivot which has prompted the multinational to announce a reduction of 1500 to 2000 jobs, mainly from point-of-sale.

The company will also shutter 10 to 15 per cent of its freestanding stores and department store counters across its major brands in coming months.

Apart from accelerated e-commerce sales, other bright spots for the 2020 fiscal year included double digit growth in travel retail, strong demand for high loyalty franchises such as Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair and Perfectionist and double digit growth for La Mer, notably in China.

We enter fiscal 2021 with cautious optimism, given the vibrancy of our skincare portfolio, acceleration in Asia/Pacific, momentum online globally, and robust innovation pipeline, said Fabrizio Freda, president and CEO of the Estée Lauder Companies.

“We expect sales trends to improve sequentially each quarter.”

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