Perfume industry riled at PM’s ‘cosmetic changes’

Spain's prime minister is poised to unveil a cabinet reshuffle and the fact that he has promised them to be "not merely cosmetic changes" have earned criticism from a very unlikely corner: the Spanish perfume association.

Perfume industry riled at PM's 'cosmetic changes'
Spain's perfume and cosmetics association does not like the government's use of the phrase "cosmetic changes" to refer to an upcoming reshuffle. Photo: Tina M. Steele/Flickr

Those in the perfume and comestics industry have urged the government to not refer to an upcoming cabinet reshuffle “as not merely cosmetic changes”, saying it trivializes one of Spain's most important industries.

The phrase has been bandied around by Mariano Rajoy over the last few days to emphasize the seriousness of the political change after the party suffered its worst election result in years.

The Association of Perfume and Cosmetics (Stanpa) has written a letter to the spokesman for Spain’s ruling Popular Party, Rafael Hernando, expressing its members' unhappiness.

“We feel uncomfortable with this language, which associates cosmetics with something lacking in value,” Stanpa wrote in the letter.

A spokesman for Stanpa told The Local that it was completely normal for the association to send letters to public institutions and in this case, Stanpa was not making demands on the government, but rather asking it to “be aware of the language it was using”.

While the association conceded in the letter that it understood that it was not the aim of government ministers who had used the phrase to harm the cosmetics industry, it emphasized that using the expression: “immediately associates cosmetics with something frivolous, trivial and fleeting”.

The perfume association went on to highlight the importance of the cosmetics industry in Spain; it currently employs 200,000 people and is “an important motor of the Spanish economy”.

The letter ends by encouraging the Spanish government to use “a different term when making similar declarations”.

Government spokesman José Luis Ayllón, who has used the phrase several times when talking about government changes, has agreed to meet with representatives of the perfume association.

Spain is currently the sixth biggest perfume and cosmetics exporter in the world. The industry has grown by 50 percent in the last five years, leading to record exports in 2014. 

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