KaDeWe: On the Cutting Edge in Germany

BERLIN — The beauty department at KaDeWe, Germany’s largest department store, has just gotten bigger, much brighter and — professional and popular consensus says — better.

The independent Berlin flagship of the Karstadt department store chain, KaDeWe has always played a starring role in German beauty retailing. Now, the main-floor beauty department has grown from 21,500 square feet to almost 30,000 square feet, taking up more than a third of the floor. The new department is the first step in a full-scale renovation and upgrading of the emporium, whose six sales floors are to be completed for KaDeWe’s 100th anniversary in 2007.

Although KaDeWe is in the process of trading up and internationalizing its image, director Patrice Wagner said beauty is typically ahead of the curve in this area. “In department stores in general, beauty is the first department to take a higher positioning,” he observed. “Beauty is a trailblazer when it comes to luxury.”

One of the biggest changes at KaDeWe is the beauty counters themselves — all 60 of them. No longer forced to conform to a KaDeWe norm, many beauty companies used the renovation as an opportunity to unveil display concepts. Shiseido, for one, presented its new, so-called “global counter concept, 2005,” an open beauty stage with integrated consultation areas. Estée Lauder’s 375-square-foot “beauty oasis” has also been designed to accommodate additional, enhanced consumer services, including airbrush makeup, neck and hand massages and eyebrow styling. The Estée Lauder Cos.’ Bobbi Brown Cosmetics introduced a warmer, more intimate counter look in white-washed oak and black stone for the first time in Germany.

Meanwhile, Christian Dior conceived its streamlined “DiorCosmotic” counter especially for KaDeWe and the new department’s Chanel counter is the brand’s largest in Germany — at 290 square feet, featuring Chanel’s entire assortment, including a fragrance bar of 13 scents. Sisley’s newest display, using glass fibers, had its German premiere in the department, and Givenchy opened its first German counter this month at KaDeWe.

Indeed, there are numerous German firsts to be found here. Aveda, Decleor and Transvital made their German department store debuts; Alessandro came out with its first nail and foot spa, set up in the middle of the sales floor, and a Molton Brown shop-in-shop offers the full range for the first time in Germany. Also, Nars, Stephane Marais, T. Leclerc, Ole Henriksen, Jurlique, Kenzoki, and Loewe were added to the lineup. At the department’s opening celebration earlier this month, guests could buy — during the party only — a personally engraved bottle of Prada’s yet-to-be-released perfume.The department’s Perfume Pool, or Duftpool, is the “heart” of the department, Wagner and merchandise manager Renate Engelmann said. It is an elliptical island accented with black columns, an inset, black ceiling and black-and-green glass display units featuring more than 1,500 fragrances. Surrounding the pool are several “fragrance-heavy” counters, Engelmann noted, from brands such as Guerlain and YSL. Key German distributors are also represented, including Nobilis, which handles Bulgari, Burberry, Creed, Etro, Jean Patou, Paul Smith and Yohji Yamamoto, among others, as well as distributor Albrecht & Dill, where its Annick Goutal, Lalique, Floris, Penhaligon’s and other brands are displayed on apothecary shelves.

Wagner would not divulge a sales goal or a per-square-foot sales figure, but he said beauty now contributes about 8 percent of sales for the store. According to industry sources, the department generates an estimated 24 million euros, or $29.5 million at current exchange rates, annually.

Like most German department stores, KaDeWe also has a small drogerie, or mass market beauty department, which, in the new design of things, has made a qualitative leap. “This is the area that has won the most,” said Wagner. Bright, open and with products presented in a clean, low-key manner on unbranded shelves, the drogerie juts into a shop window and passersby can look in from the street. Nearby, there is an expanded hair care selection, featuring products from Bumble and bumble, Sebastian, Tigi, Phyto and SP Wella, among others. Also highlighted is a large assortment of beauty and bathroom accessories, barrettes and hair accessories, plus hairpieces and wigs. While there are treatment rooms dedicated to Lauder and Shiseido, a third will be utilized by a changing roster of cosmetics brands.

Overall, the department has a modern, interactive slant. The cosmetics counters have largely been conceived as beauty stations, many offering on-stand services like partial massages, or, in-store manicure and pedicures. “This brings a dynamic to the department,” Engelmann said. “It’s very different than the old shelf presentation.” But too much interaction is not desirable, she pointed out. “We don’t do aggressive fragrance sampling, and never spray the customer, only a testing strip. Today one has to sell in a charmingly aggressive way.”Henkel Exec to Retire

BERLIN — Hans Van Bylen has been named to succeed Uwe Specht as executive vice president of cosmetics and toiletries at Henkel, effective July 1 of next year.

Specht, a member of the management board at Henkel, will retire next July upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 62.

He has been with Henkel for 36 years, the last 20 as vice president of the cosmetics division. Van Bylen has held various international positions at Henkel since joining the Dusseldorf-based firm in 1984. He was most recently responsible for Henkel’s international hair care and overseas cosmetics business.

— M.D.

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