Reports surfaced this week that L'Oréal will close its two stores, one in Los Angeles and the other in Farmington, Conn. It isn't surprising this move is being made and at this time. Of course, there's the obvious downturn in shopping center traffic, causing many retailers to retrench. And, industry sources estimate the company was losing between $2 million and $3 million at those doors.
Paco Underhill, chief executive officer of Envirosell, which gets into the mind-set of shoppers, recently told Time magazine that shoppers just don't want to be in shopping centers so they aren't tempted. He also said American is overstored, so a decision to get out of retail for L'Oréal isn't off base, according to his findings.
When L'Oréal opened those stores five years ago, the company was experimenting with fixturing and products that could be neatly fit into mass stores. Rather than enact expensive and complicated tests within retail doors, the company tried these stores as living labs. In fact, many new fixturing programs rolled out across the country have been proven within the two experimental stores. A visit to Walgreens in Times Square shows just how far L'Oréal has come with fixturing and testing. In today's economic world, there's not as much money around to invest in experimentation. And, L'Oréal probably got a solid base from five years of learning how to be a retailer as well as a manufacturer.
From a consumer standpoint, the units are hardly necessary. Sure, it was nice to find all L'Oréal products neatly presented in one store. However, shoppers can find L'Oréal at any local drug chain and usually at their favorite discount and even food store. Also, L'Oréal kept pricing at the high end of the spectrum so not to rob its bread-and-butter merchants. Service levels, however, were superior to most mass doors and included consultations and other experimental sales tools. Still, the disappearance of these stores won't eliminate shopper access to the brand. The Lancôme stores are a slightly different story. Lancôme's distribution is more limited and those vertical stores still serve a purpose.
As more and more mass merchants look to partner with vendors to develop upscale store fixtures, L'Oréal will undoubtedly get a chance to have more experimental departments within chain stores. Finally, it is a time within L'Oréal where challenges in North America have forced reductions in staffing and other belt-tightening measures. It is time for L'Oréal to put its efforts into manufacturing and marketing, rather than minding the store.
A few words with David Woolf, vice president of American International Industries, the power behind the mass market eyelash business and a well-known face in the industry.
WWDBeautyNews: How is the eyelash business?
Woolf: Business is great because once women try false eyelashes; they realize they are better than mascara. Our biggest sellers are actually individual lashes [of one or two hairs grouped together]. We see more chains giving more space to lashes and we hope it continues.
WWDBeautyNews: How do you get people to try lashes?
Woolf: We do a big Halloween business and sometimes that helps get people to realize how easy they are. We have videos that show application to help, too. We've done some in-store demonstrations, but word of mouth is the best.
What's in Store
Artificial nails: Watch for sales to grow thanks to new technology of kits such as one from Kiss that has a molding technology and a television commercial to support it. Called Everlasting French, the kit retails for less than $6 and is timed right for an economy where women are foregoing salon visits.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye