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Natura &Co Holding S.A. (NTCO) Q1 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

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NTCO earnings call for the period ending March 31, 2021.

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Natura &Co Holding S.A. (NTCO 4.27%)
Q1 2021 Earnings Call
May 13, 2021, 9:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for waiting. At this time, we would like to welcome everyone to Natura & Co First Quarter 2021 Results. [Operator Instructions] This presentation may contain forward-looking statements. Such statements are not statements of historical fact and reflect the beliefs and expectations of Natura & Co's management.

Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made and the company does not undertake any obligation to update them in light of new information or future developments. This presentation also includes adjusted information prepared by the company for information and reference purposes only, which have not been audited.

Now, I will turn the conference over to Mrs. Viviane Behar, Investor Relations Officer of Natura &Co. Ms. Behar, the floor is yours.

Viviane Behar -- Investor Relations Officer

Good morning or good afternoon to everyone. I am Viviane Behar, Natura & Co's Investor Relations Officer. Thank you for joining us today for this call to present Natura &Co's First Quarter 2021 Earnings. We're delighted to be with you again at our Investor Day last month.

I'm joined today by Roberto Marques, Executive Chairman and CEO of Natura &Co Joseph Filippo, CFO of Natura &Co, as well as Guilherme Castellan, Deputy CFO; and Joao Paulo Ferreira, CEO of Natura & Co Latin America, who will join us for the Q&A session. Our Investor Relations team of Natura & Co is also with us.

The presentation we will be referring to during this call is available on the Natura &Co Investor Relations website. Roberto will start today with an overview of our performance. Filippo will detail our financials for Natura &Co. After that, Roberto will make concluding remarks and we will open the floor to you for questions.

For the sake of timing, in order for us to accommodate questions from all of you, we would like to ask you to please limit yourselves to one or two questions each in the Q&A session. Thank you very much for your understanding and cooperation on this. Let me now hand over to Roberto. Roberto, please.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Thank you, Viviane, and hello to everyone. Thank you for joining us. I hope all of you are keeping safe and well in these still challenging times.

Let me begin on Slide 3 with an overview of our first quarter highlights. Natura & Co turned in another strong performance in the first quarter of 2021. Our Group sales were up nearly 26% outperforming the global CFT market, and we posted a significant increase in EBITDA and margin with our report EBITDA margin up almost 700 basis points.

This outstanding performance was achieved while we continued to operate in a challenging healthy environment with lockdowns and restrictions in certain key markets. This attests once again to the resilience of our omni-channel business model with a further ramp-up in online sales and to our unparalleled direct-to-consumer reach.

We saw double-digit growth in Brazilian Reais across our brands and a very good performance in our key markets. Natura & Co, in turn, had an outstanding performance with both the Natura and Avon brands contributing. Avon International improved its performance in Western Europe and Asia Pacific.

The Body Shop continued to offset store closures with very strong growth in online and at-home channels and Aesop had another remarkable quarter of growth, driven by Asia and online. Digital sales continued to grow. Digital enable sales accounted for 48% of our total, up from 33% in the same quarter last year. And total online sales were up 166% in the quarter compared to the same quarter last year.

The Avon transformation journey continues to show progress. The rollout of the new commercial model is under way and we are seeing reshoots such as positive advance in market shares and representative-based even though key geographies and categories like makeup and fragrance are still heavily impacted by the pandemic.

The transformation plan we presented at our recent Investor Day, supporting initiatives to drive growth and optimize cost, is progressing. And let me remind you that we also raised our target synergies for the Avon integration to now a range of between $350 million and $450 million, an increase of $50 million over the period.

Another recent highlight I would like to mention here is the successful completion earlier this month of a $1 billion [Phonetic] ESG bond issue that is linked to sustainability targets on greenhouse gas emission and use of post-consumer recycled plastic in plastic product packaging. This is falling in line with our commitment to life, 2030 sustainability vision and it shows again how we are aligning and connecting financial and environmental targets. The bond issue improves our indebtedness profile in our capital structure. We ended the quarter with a robust cash position of BRL6.6 billion, and we made further headway on deleveraging with our net debt to EBITDA ratio at 1.18 times at the end of the quarter, a significant improvement over 3.93 times at the end of Q1 last year.

So overall, I think we can be very proud of the performance of the entire organization has produced in a very challenging context. It is another demonstration of the strength of our business model, which aims to make positive impact while delivering sustainable growth and value creation.

With that, I'll hand over to Filippo for a closer look at our financial performance.

Jose Antonio de Almeida Filippo -- Chief Financial Officer

On Slide 6, we focus on our online performance, which includes both e-commerce and digital social selling. As Roberto mentioned, digital sales largely offset the impact of COVID-19 in our retail activity, which continued to be impacted in the quarter, mainly in Europe. The Group's consolidated e-commerce and digital social selling grew by a very strong 166% in Q1, reaching 12% of the total sales, supported by strong growth in our brands. At Natura, digital sales were up a spectacular 253% in the quarter. At Avon International, digital sales also grew by 132% in Q1. At The Body Shop, online and at-home sales combined 51% of total sales. And at Aesop, online accounted for 29% of total sales in Q1. Overall, our digitally enabled sales accounted for 48% of our total sales.

Slide 7 shows that we posted an impressive increase of 470% [Phonetic] in reported EBITDA, which reached over BRL829 million in Q1 with margin of 8.8%, up 690 basis points versus the same quarter last year. Adjusted EBITDA, which excludes transformation costs in both years, as well as Avon-related acquisition costs and non-recurring purchase price allocation effects in 2020, was BRL963.2 million. This represents a very strong increase of 68.5% with margin of 10.2%, up 260 basis points.

The strong increase in adjusted EBITDA and margin resulted from higher sales and operational leverage at Natura & Co LatAm and ISA. Turning to Slide 8, we see that Natura & Co reached BRL60.2 million in underlying net income in the first quarter, reversing the negative BRL64.1 million [Phonetic] we posted in Q1 last year. The sharp 122.8% improvement in Q1 was driven mainly by the strong increase in EBITDA and the line net income excludes Avon acquisition-related effects of BRL215.3 million. This include transformation and integration costs of BRL134.1 million in the purchase price allocation amortization effect for BRL111.3 million. This was partially offset by positive discontinued operations expense of BRL28.7 million and positive non-controlling interest of BRL1.4 million.

I think it is important to take into account, Natura & Co posted a reported net loss in Q1 of BRL155.2 million. This marks a very significant improvement over the net loss of BRL820.8 million in Q1 of 2020, driven by higher EBITDA and lower income tax expense, partially offset by higher depreciation of BRL47 million and higher financial expenses of BRL19 million.

Slide 9, on Slide 9, we look on our cash and balance sheet. We ended the quarter with a strong cash position of BRL6.6 billion, in line with projections and well above our minimum thresholds. We continued to deleverage our balance sheet and at the end of the quarter, Natura &Co Holding's consolidated net debt to EBITDA ratio stood at 1.18 times, significantly, down from 3.93 times in Q1 last year, including the effects of IFRS 16.

As Roberto mentioned, we improved our indebtedness profile with a $1 billion sustainability linked bond issued by Natura cosmetics with a guarantee by Natura &Co. The funds will be used to refinance existing debt, in line with the Group's liability management plan to improve its capital structure. The seven-year note mature on May 2028, and carry an interest coupon of 4.1% to 5% per year. The Second graph provides you with our amortization schedule and shows that even before the bond proceeds, we have cash far in excess of BRL3.2 billion in debt maturing this year.

Let's turn now to our performance by business unit, beginning with Natura & Co Latam on Slide 11. Total net sales were up 24.6% in reais and 15.9% at constant currency in Q1. This excellent performance was driven by growth in reais at both in Natura and Avon brands.

Natura brand was up 29.6% in reais and 24.6% at constant-currency, supported by a strong performance across the Board, both in Brazil and Hispanic LatAm, attesting to the strength of our digital social selling model and the robust innovation pipeline.

The Avon brand reported another consecutive quarter of growth of 20% in reais and 8.1% in constant currency, briefing by key markets in Hispanic LatAm. Natura &Co.'s clear leadership in the CFT market in Latin America was confirmed but Euromonitor. The Group recorded market share gains of 0.7 percentage points in 2020, reaching 12.5%. Brazil was even stronger with market share of 17%, up a 4 [Phonetic] percentage points over the prior year.

On Slide 12, sales of the Natura brand in Brazil rose 12.6% in Q1 with market share gains. Growth was driven by continued digital social selling penetration and increasing the average number of consultants of 14.2% versus Q1 2020 and higher volumes of most categories.

Natura Brazil's online sales, including e-commerce and social selling, were up 150% versus Q1 2020, notably driven by consultants and online stores. At the end of Q1, we surpassed 1.1 million [Phonetic] Natura consultant online stores with a significant year-on-year increase in the number of orders and visits.

The Natura consultant loyalty index in Brazil remained strong and business leaders' loyalty was also significantly higher versus last year. [Indecipherable] consultant was down 3.5% in the quarter after 17 consecutive quarters of growth since the successful implementation of our segmented relationship selling module in mid-2017. This is a result of an increase in our consultant base since Q3. This temporary [Phonetic] dilutes productivity as new consultants are in early stages of building up their activity. Over time, we expect this consultants to progressing higher productivity segments on our commercial module.

In Spanish LatAm, the Natura brand recorded spectacular growth of 60.4%, supported by all markets, notably, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. Natura saw productivity increase and an expansion in the consultant base of 19.4%. The quarter ended with a significantly higher consultant loyalty index in the region, up 530 basis points versus Q1 2020. We also launched Natura's e-commerce in Mexico, completing the brand's e-commerce platform in the region.

Turning to Avon brand on Slide 13. Avon's integration in Latam is on track with important progress in procurement, customer service, financial services distribution and digital. In Brazil, the Avon brand's revenue was down 2.8% in Q1 2021, versus Q1 2020. This decrease is largely is in effect of the preparation for the new segmented commercial model implementation. As we saw in 2017 at the Natura brand, the structural change caused the drop in the number of representatives. With once the [Phonetic] representative base stabilizes and the representatives' progress toward higher segment levels based on higher sales, we expect productivity growth to resume. Volume was slightly up in the quarter, picking up in March.

A highlight of the period was the Avon brand sponsorship in the reality show Big Brother Brazil. This helped Avon connect with younger consumer, strengthening the brand's power and improving consumer perception. The brand engagement with the show's audience in various online and offline platforms and we saw e-commerce sales nearly triple with record-breaking number of impressions in social media channels.

In Hispanic Latam, Avon's net revenue grew by a strong 35.1%, supported by a higher activity level and high representative productivity, which helped offset the 5.5% [Phonetic] decline in average number of representatives. Growth was driven by Fashion and Home, and most beauty categories such as body care, fragrances, and face care. White-collar continued to be impacted by the pandemic effects.

On Slide 14, adjusted EBITDA for Natura & Co Latam more than doubled in the quarter, growing by 119% to BRL630.3 million, driven by revenue performance and operational leverage in Brazil at the Natura brand and Hispanic Latam, both at Natura and Avon brands. Adjusted EBITDA margin expanded by 530 basis points to 12.2%.

Let's now move to Avon International on Slide 16. Net revenue was up 11.4% in Q1 in reais and was down 10.7% at constant currency. Sales were impacted by the second wave of COVID in certain markets, notable in central and Eastern Europe, and also by key categories like fragrances and cosmetics, which were more affected by the pandemic. Avon gained market share in Q1 2021 versus Q1 2020 in Western Europe, driven by UK and in Asia Pacific. All regions improved share month-after-month, including Avon stock countries. Avon UK's market share increased for the fourth consecutive quarter and it became the third brand in the beauty market over the last 12 months, up from 10th one year earlier.

Avon International's adjusted EBITDA was BRL97.4 million with margin of 4.1%, down 70 basis points due to the impact of lower revenue and higher strategic investments in digital and commercial areas to accelerate future growth.

On Slide 18, we now move to The Body Shop, with sales up 47.7% in reais and 10.7% at constant currency, driven mainly by the UK and North America. We saw particularly strong performance of the at-home channel, up 121% [Phonetic] and e-commerce, which was up 119% versus last year.

Together, both channels represented slightly more than half of the total sales. And this growth more than offset the impact of the pandemic second wave in retail. About two-thirds of retail stores were open at the end of the quarter, while the UK and other markets in Europe were under lockdown in Q1.

EBITDA rose by 45.4% to BRL184.2 million, while EBITDA margin was 14.7%, down 30 basis points year-on-year. This largely reflected the impact of the buyback of the Japan head franchisee. Excluding this effect, EBITDA margin would have been up 110 basis points versus last year to 15.4% despite the pandemic's impacts or with daily sales and channel mix.

On Slide 20, Aesop again recorded an outstanding performance. Net revenue was up by exceptional 71.9% in reais and 30.6% at constant currency in the quarter. Aesop growth in all regions. Performance was particularly strong in Asia, with sales up 67% at constant currency. Revenue grew by 6% globally, supported by strong positive like-for-like growth in Asia. Although stores remained closed across Europe, in Canada and parts of Australia, online again offset the retail impact with impressive growth of 102%. Online sales accounted for 29% of total revenue. Q1 2021 EBITDA more than doubled to BRL156.6 million with EBITDA margin of 26.7%, up 390 basis points, driven by top line sales growth, higher EBITDA, notably in Asia and cost efficiency.

Let me now handle back to Roberto.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Thank you, Filippo. Let me now conclude on Slide 23 with the key takeaways. First of all, we are on a sustainable growth path. The Natura brand continues to post double-digit growth, both in Brazil and Latin America, while the Avon brand is growing in Hispanic Latam.

The Body Shop and Aesop continue their strong growth, even with retail being impacted by the pandemic. Second, Natura & Co omni-channel model has shown its strength throughout the COVID-19 crisis, helping to offset the impact of the pandemic. All of our businesses are increasingly omni-channel and digitalization of consultants and reps continues to gather momentum. Digital social selling and e-commerce have been key to our strong market outperformance in the quarter.

Let me now conclude on Slide 23 with the key takeaways. First of all, we are on a sustainable growth path. The Natura brand continues to post double-digit growth, both in Brazil and Latin America, while the Avon brand is growing in Hispanic Latam. The Body Shop and Aesop continue their strong growth even with retail being impacted by the [Indecipherable] completed the issue of our $1 billion ES&G bond. So, while the COVID pandemic is far from over and we continue to be vigilant, we continue to grow and progress on our strategic initiatives.

Thank you very much for your attention and we are now going to open the Q&A session and Filippo, JP, and I are happy to take your questions. So, the floor is now yours.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, we will now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Richard Cathcart with Bradesco is online with a question. Please, go ahead.

Richard Cathcart -- Bradesco

Hi, good morning everyone. Two questions for me. The first one on the Natura & Co Latam business, very big increase in margin there and even when we compare to pre-COVID levels in the 1Q19 pro forma numbers. So I just wanted to -- if you could give us a little bit more color on the various drivers of margin improvement, Natura versus Avon and also Brazil, Latin America and perhaps what we can expect through the rest of the year? And then the second one, just a quick one, if you could give us any color on Mother's Day, obviously an important day for you guys for the sector as a whole, we get positive feedback from other retailers. So it would be interesting to hear your feedback as well? Thanks very much.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Hi, Richard. Roberto here. Thanks for the question. I'll kick off here and then I'll turn to JP. So on the margins, we are very pleased with the margin progression. But, I would also remind everybody that we have some of the synergies kicking in, which is very encouraging to see that they are materializing, it's helping us navigating some of the pressures that we're seeing in some of our raw materials, etc. So we'll continue to monitor that, but we're very pleased with the efficiency that we are seeing in distribution and manufacturing and really materializing in margins.

I'll turn to JP to talk a little bit about Hispanic Latam that we're very happy with also the progress in margin and also a little bit of Mother's Day.

So JP, please.

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

Hello Richard. So the market in Latin America has been seeing a very modest growth, slightly better in Hispanic Latin America than in Brazil in the beginning of the year. Natura has been riding on significant advances in brand power and brand preference, and amazing market share gains, as throughout last year. So that gave us a base of continued growth. I remind you that the share of the Natura brand in many of the Hispanic Latin American countries is still below our fair share, particularly in the Northern part of the region, Colombia and Mexico. So on that base, you saw that amazing growth and there is our reasons to think that that's going to continue.

Similarly with Avon, now we are benefiting from the quick wins, the harmonization of various commercial practices, I've talked about in previous occasions, also the much sharper selection within our portfolio there, of categories Cross Country [Phonetic], Hero brands, and we could use the mix of different categories in our favor.

So, we're pretty happy to see Avon growing again in Hispanic Latin America with a very smaller dispersion as well in terms of the various markets. So all-in-all, that volume increase also helped us with margins, of course, plus the synergies that Roberto referred to.

Richard Cathcart -- Bradesco

That's perfect. Thank you very much. Perhaps just quickly on Mother's Day. If you could?

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

Here in Latin America, we are pretty pleased with the performance of our Mother's Day campaigns throughout the channels and the brands.

Richard Cathcart -- Bradesco

Okay, thanks so much.

Operator

Robert Ford with Bank of America is online with a question. Please, go ahead.

Robert E.Ford -- Bank of America

Hey, thank you, and good morning everybody. And congratulations on the quarter. Yes, I was hoping maybe you could discuss some of the changes that accompany the new Rep Compensation model in Brazil at Avon. Clearly there is, there appear to be some changes in terms of the profile of network leaders and there is certainly a cultural change and the new KPIs. I mean I was hoping you could expand on that to the extent it's not strategic. And given your prior experiences and learnings, and now greater scale, how long do you think it will take to stabilize the network in Brazil and then begin to grow reps and productivity rates?

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

Hello Rob. JP here. So the nature of the change of course. Well, first of all, the rollout happened toward the end of the first quarter. So, a significant part of the quarter was dedicated to preparing the ground for that, which include changes in the sales structure, significant changes in the sales structure.

Now, as regards with the representatives, they are now on a model that values lifetime value and progression and segmentation which has to be communicated again and again to cascade down that huge network. And as with regards to sales leaders, they are now required to dedicate time to developing those reps, so that -- teaching them more about the products and how to get to develop their client base and by large -- rather than just acquiring new reps.

So the changes are important. Based on Natura's previous experience, we expect the system to stabilize within one to two quarters. So the second half of this year, it should be stable again.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Rob, the other thing that I would add, which is also important in this change on the commercial model, it's not just happening in Brazilian Latin America for Avon. I mean, Brazil, as JP said, already implemented that and we are encouraged by the early results, but we are doing the same thing at Avon International. And in fact, we already have two pilots with a new segmentation model implemented, one in South Africa and the other one in the Nordics. And the results are pretty encouraging from increase retention productivity and the goal for Avon internationally to expand to four key markets in the second half of this year and then really for all markets in the first half of next year. So, again, applying all the learnings, all the KPIs, all the lifetime value approach that Natura has taken very successfully, it's now being implemented at Avon, both in Latin America and Avon International.

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

And I guess, I should have said, Roberto, that the results in Brazil for Avon are above our expectations.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Correct, right.

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

[Speech Overlap] Very pleased, Bob.

Robert E.Ford -- Bank of America

And then just one, my second question is as you integrate Avon into the Natura systems platform, what functionality does that enable across administrative and commercial considerations?

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

So, I will start, I mean on the administrative thing, I mean especially in Latin America, we are integrating more. But I would say, even there are some now integration that goes beyond North America. So HR platform now, it's been integrated. So we now have all associates in Latin America under one platform from compensation, benefits and those things were not small undertakings and that's done.

We now are doing the same thing in some of the other areas, of course, the whole supply chain in procurement, distribution, manufacturing, it's coming and that's producing some of the synergies already that are helping us with gross margin. In terms of the commercial one, I'll invite JP to talk a little bit about the platform, especially with social selling and some of the plans for integration here.

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

Yes, I think it's worth mentioning. For instance, the credit card [Phonetic] collection engine, which is now been fully integrated improving the way we assign credit and also reducing delinquency rates. The other one I think it's worth mentioning is the CRM. So the way we now can track with those transactions, the representatives and use the same CRM algorithms that we use for not Natura now adjusted for Avon which is already helping to drive additional revenues.

And, of course, on the social selling tools that we keep spreading across all the various countries, you're aware of, producing sharing content and linking it back to their online stores.

Robert E.Ford -- Bank of America

Great, that's very helpful. Thank you very much.

Operator

Helena Villares with Itau is in line with the question. Please, go ahead.

Helena Villares -- Itau BBA

Hi guys, good morning. Thank you for taking my question. So my question goes to BS [Phonetic]. We are very interested in the growth, the company, the brand has been showing in the last quarters, it's much above the historical level that we had seen. So what we are trying to understand here, if this new channel, the online and the at-home channels, if they are able to reach new clients, new type of clients, and if so, what kind of new public are you able to reach, are you able to skill that the brand is being, it's achieving their purpose in these new channels? That's the first question. And in this sense, what kind of growth we are already seeing coming from Asia for this brand or it's very early stage yet and we can see much more growth coming from Asia? That's our question. Thank you.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Hi, Helena. Roberto here. Thanks for the question. You're right and we are seeing, in fact, this increase in e-commerce and at home through social selling and really bringing also different profiles of customers to The Body Shop, interesting -- this is not just in isolation.

While we are seeing a tremendous job by The Body Shop team is really -- we igniting the brand to its purpose. Right? A more activist, a brand that has no clarity in terms of its position in the marketplace. I mean we just launched a couple of products, some iconic brands and like the white mask, [Indecipherable] and those things are really resonating with existing customers, but also attracting new customers, which also gets enhanced by this expansion of the e-commerce and the at-home.

So we are very encouraged by those results, and I think as we also started to reopen stores, some of the new store designs that is somehow we stopped some of the rollout last year, as we also progress and expand some of those new layouts, which we feel stations and everything else, we also think that this will create more momentum. On Asia, I still think that it's early for The Body Shop. We are seeing spectacular results on Aesop. I think there is a lot of upside in Asia for The Body Shop as we know. We acquired the head franchisee in Japan, there is some early good indicators, but there is a lot of opportunity and upside for The Body Shop in Asia, particularly in Japan.

Helena Villares -- Itau BBA

Thank you.

Operator

Ruben Couto from Santander is on with the question. Please, go ahead.

Ruben Couto -- Santander

Good morning, everyone. Can you share more color on Avon performance in international markets, particularly in the UK. We were surprised with the jump to the third spot in the UK, specifically which is good news. In the earnings release you mentioned contribution from [Indecipherable] behind this performance. But what is behind all of these, I mean, now thinking specifically about the categories, is there something related to new product launches? Maybe to the relaunch of the brand globally or even related to improvements in sales channel. Can you elaborate a little bit further on this performance and a second question actually a follow-up to Richard's question on Mother's day? I mean you have been highlighting over the best couple of views on how the Natura brand manage to gain give and we noticed that Avon had some developments in the same direction. I still understood that you guys were pleased, you think it's a pharmacy matters there.

Yeah. Can you hear me?

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Yeah, we can.

Ruben Couto -- Santander

Thank you.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Yes, we can hear. Can you hear us?

Ruben Couto -- Santander

Yeah, I can. Sorry about that.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Okay. Okay. No, no worries. Thank you for the question, Ruben. So on Avon International and in particular UK, we are seeing really significant improvement in many fronts. One, we made already some changes on the earnings model for the reps in UK, which again we simplify and has been applied now in many other markets at Avon and that is creating more traction with the channel. We are seeing productivity increase in UK.

The channel is growing, which is very encouraged. So that's one factor. The second is digitalization. UK has been the market that we've been applying more the social selling, the e-brochure, and we are seeing quarter-after-quarter strong increase in adoption of the digital platforms and very strong increase in terms of sales through e-brochures, so that's point number two. And point number three, we are seeing traction in some of the new products. Our Protanal [Phonetic] is really working very well under a new and creating some good momentum specifically for the UK market.

So I think it's a combination, but if I were to tell you one thing is probably, again the commercial model, the simplification of the model and getting more traction with the reps combined with the digitalization.

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

Also, he also asked about gifting for Avon. So yes, gifting became one of the areas of opportunity for Avon. We are developing that offering based on our learnings here in Latin America, still isn't as important on relative terms as it is for Natura, but it is growing.

Ruben Couto -- Santander

Got it. Thank you, guys.

Operator

Andrew Ruben from Morgan Stanley is online with the question. Please go ahead.

Andrew Ruben -- Morgan Stanley

Hi, thanks very much for the question. I was curious for a bit more detail on the Rep Count debt Natura Brazil. I'm curious with the newer consultants. If there is any color you can provide on how long a consultant takes to ramp and any sense on what you think now might be the right number of consultants if you're looking to increase the base versus, say, 1 to 1.1 million [Phonetic]. Any color there would be very helpful. Thank you.

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks for the question. So normally we look at consultants like beginners when they have less than one year in the activity and mature when we cross that line. Productivity increases over time. That is well known. By the way, this is one of the reasons why you saw consultant's productivity coming down this quarter on an aggregate basis, due to a much higher number of beginners, which joined the network bid last year. And the very, very good news is that they were retained. It's not that they entered during the pandemic, the crisis, and went away, they were retained, thanks to the strength of that value proposition.

So that productivity should grow continuously right now in the coming quarters. Now, our strategy has been for many years to try and get modest growth in Brazil in the number of consultants, right, and a much more aggressive growth in Hispanic Latin America where there is still more room to increase that consultant base.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Yeah, Andrew, and again just to complement JP said, the very exciting thing is that the digitalization is attracting a different profile of consultants wrap in [Phonetic] applying the same lifetime value segmentation. We expect that -- also is going to translate in higher productivity down the road, but it's exciting to see the channel expanding with a different profile because of the now enrollment in all the process being done through social selling.

Andrew Ruben -- Morgan Stanley

Great, that's very helpful. Thank you.

Operator

Tobias Stingelin with Citi Bank is online with a question. Please, go ahead.

Tobias Stingelin -- Citibank

Good morning, everybody. Thank you for taking the question and congratulations on the strong quarter. I have two quick ones on my side. And just for going back to your team, already talked about, so going back to Avon brand in Brazil. It was very interesting discussion, a very helpful color on the rate base. But I wanted to explore more productivity. And you mentioned in the release that wants to the base stabilizes you expect incremental productivity? So if could give us any color on how that, how should we expect that productivity to evolve going forward would be very interesting and very helpful. And the second point, in the Hispanic Latam, you talked about -- productivity is very, very strong and you remained so -- but looking into the e-commerce impact and you mentioned that you launched the e-commerce platform in Mexico. So, how do you expect these dynamics to going forward? Right. How do you expect the e-commerce platform to impact the productivity in the region. It would be very, very helpful as well. Thanks.

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks for the question. So as regard with Avon's representative productivity in Brazil. The commercial model that has been introduced is to foster productivity increase similar to what happened in Natura. So if you go back to early 2017 and see how the productivity went up, productivity went up quarter after quarter.

So this is what we are aiming at for Avon, right. So that's number one. As regards to introduction of e-commerce in some other geographies across the region, well, first of all, that allows us to achieve new customers, new shoppers in different shopping occasions. We increased the base of customers we have. And as consultants learn how to operate their online stores, that also increases their productivities as they can reach new clients, which they wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

Tobias Stingelin -- Citibank

Thanks, JP.

Operator

Irma Sgarz with Goldman Sachs is online with the question. Please, go ahead.

Irma Sgarz -- Goldman Sachs

Yes, hi, thanks for taking my question. I was curious, we're hearing a lot about the different input price pressures that companies across globally -- but also specifically in Brazil are experiencing. So I was just curious about how you're thinking about price increases across your brands, specifically in Brazil, but maybe also in some of the other markets where specifically where you are experiencing pricing pressures and how you're thinking about the ability to raise prices versus the ability toward the consumer to absorb any potential price increases? Thank you.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Hi, Irma. I was started and then maybe, Filippo if you want to complement. So listen, we are seeing and we continue to be monitoring that carefully i across all geographies. But as you saw, actually our gross margin across all business went up this quarter. And the reason for that is twofold, one, as we mentioned, we are seeing some of the synergies, the efficiencies kicking in and any most part is also impacting the gross margin. So that's helping us on one hand. On the other hand, we are also doing revenue management across all business in terms of portfolio promotion and make sure that we are managing that through. As you know, I mean, taking The Body Shop over the last two years, we were able to reduce discount by a magnitude of about 30% to about 15% on average.

So, managing the portfolio promotion schemes, some categories is probably the first line of defense against this on top of the synergies and the efficiencies that we are having across our network. And again, I would also remind all of you that we now as we updated our synergies, we included some synergies that are coming outside of Latin America. And one example of that is moving the production of Body Butters to Avon Poland manufacturing and that is creating a lot of efficiencies also for the Body Shop, for example.

So we'll continue to monitor the situation. We think the team has done incredibly well in being able to offset thus far, resulting in increase in gross margin, but it is one area of attention and that will continue to be monitored.

Filippo, do you want to add something?

Jose Antonio de Almeida Filippo -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes, hi, Irma. Yes, we will be facing pressures definitely as all of the industry in terms of commodity prices inflation some effects as well. This is not something that's not new for us. We've been dealing with this for a long time. I think that's important to recall about our relationship with the supply chain that we take -- it's very differentiated than we managed that very well. But also like Roberto said, there is a lot of opportunities and we are already executing in terms of synergies and efficiency gains on this, like merging distribution centers, planning logistics [Phonetic], a lot of opportunities there also we will take into account, and using that can kind of help us on addressing those challenges in terms of the cost.

Irma Sgarz -- Goldman Sachs

Thanks.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Joseph Giordano from JP Morgan is on the line with a question. Please, go ahead.

Joseph Giordano -- JP Morgan

Hi, good morning everyone. Thanks for taking my question. So there is actually a couple. And so the first one is on the cash flow generation. So the company is like quite [Indecipherable] at this point very close to its target. So my question here is if we should be seeing you guys getting more active on the M&A front and buying like some niche brands like Aesop and accelerate them on the new global platform. So that's the first one. And the second one is, like if you guys could provide some updates on the development of Natura brand in Asia, and here like particularly in Malaysia? Thank you.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Hi Jo. Roberto here. Thank you for the question. Listen, we're very pleased with the deleverage and again how we continue to be -- progress in our capital structure. And again, very pleased with the successful bond issue that we did this quarter. But again, the plans that we share with the market and the guidance, was all based on organic growth, and that's the focus that we have right now.

Of course, we have the responsibility to continue to monitor the market and we'll continue to do so in terms of opportunities, but I would say right now the focus is again on the integration, the turnaround of Avon continue the momentum of digitalization across all of our business, great momentum of Natura, Body Shop, Aesop. So we still think that we have a runaway that is very exciting for the business with the organic growth.

Regarding Asia for Natura as you know, we have a pilot in Malaysia. I would say that it's still early. Last year was of course a year there were so many variables and etc. that is difficult to really read.

So we continued to focus on getting the right portfolio, the right go-to-market, the right positioning. Once we have more confidence about the model that we are testing with Natura Malaysia, then the goal is to expand to some of the markets. So hopefully, we'll get a better reading by the end of this year, and then we'll come up with the right plan.

Joseph Giordano -- JP Morgan

Perfect, thank you.

Operator

This concludes today's question-and-answer session. I would like to invite Mr. Roberto Marques to proceed with his closing comments. Please, go ahead.

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Okay, thank you all for joining us and participating for the question. I want to just finish with two comments. One is, this week, we also heard that our brands were well recognized in terms of strengths through the brand financed by brand director ranking Natura in fact was elected the strongest brand in cosmetic globally, which is really something that we are very proud of.

At the same time, The Body Shop, the first time came as part of the Top 50 in the ranking which also shows the progress that the team has been doing and even continues to be within the ranking. So very, very encouraged by that. I want to also send a shot out to our entire teams, associates network for what we believe was a remarkable quarter under this still very challenging set of circumstances. So thank you all very much for that.

And thank you all very much for your attention and I hope you all stay well, taking care of yourselves and your families and loved ones in this very challenging pandemic. Hopefully with the vaccines, we will be able to turn the corner. We are seeing some green shoots in some countries and that's encouraging, but there are a long way to go in some of the other markets. So, stay well, stay safe. Thank you very much, everybody.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 56 minutes

Call participants:

Viviane Behar -- Investor Relations Officer

Roberto de Oliveira Marques -- Chairman

Jose Antonio de Almeida Filippo -- Chief Financial Officer

Joao Paulo Ferreira -- Chief Executive Officer

Richard Cathcart -- Bradesco

Robert E.Ford -- Bank of America

Helena Villares -- Itau BBA

Ruben Couto -- Santander

Andrew Ruben -- Morgan Stanley

Tobias Stingelin -- Citibank

Irma Sgarz -- Goldman Sachs

Joseph Giordano -- JP Morgan

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