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Chanel’s Chiquet on Hand at Bloomingdale’s

NEW YORK — Chanel Inc. unveiled a new counter design at Bloomingdale’s Tuesday morning and showed off its new president-elect, Maureen Chiquet, in the process.<BR><BR>Chiquet will not officially begin her duties as president and chief...

NEW YORK — Chanel Inc. unveiled a new counter design at Bloomingdale’s Tuesday morning and showed off its new president-elect, Maureen Chiquet, in the process.

Chiquet will not officially begin her duties as president and chief operating officer of Chanel Inc. until Oct. 1, but she took the opportunity to make her first American in-store appearance during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship. Chiquet will succeed Arie Kopelman, who is retiring but will continue as vice chairman of the board, and has been in training at Chanel’s Paris headquarters for a year.

After hearing Bloomingdale’s chairman and chief executive officer Michael Gould praise the design as Chanel’s finest effort in the U.S. and something that will give the brand a fresh start, Chiquet responded by describing the installation as “a tribute to teamwork.” She was referring to Chanel’s creative squads in Paris and New York plus the Bloomingdale’s team. A delegation of French executives was led by Francis Vandenbussche, who is responsible for global counter design, display and advertising. The New York faction was headed by Jean Hoehn Zimmerman, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Although Chiquet is known as a fashion veteran with a 14-year tenure at Gap Inc., she began her career in the French cosmetics industry. Starting in 1985, she worked for three years as a brand manager in the hair care division of French giant L’Oréal. In fact, she recalled working for Jean Paul Agon, who now is president and ceo of L’Oréal’s U.S. subsidiary.

The redone counter is on Bloomingdale’s main floor and occupies the same footprint as its predecessor, but the selling square footage has been increased by 25 percent with the elimination of an old staircase to Chanel’s upstairs balcony, which is due to open in a month as a site for makeup and facial treatments by appointment.

The counter area covers 645.8 square feet. The balcony adds another 322.9 square feet. It is Chanel’s biggest and most updated in-store counter in the U.S. It is also the first American installation to bear an image from Chanel’s new Nicole Kidman ad campaign. The counter is a sister to the one opened earlier this year in London’s Harvey Nichols.

The Bloomingdale’s counter was inaugurated Tuesday but it has been in operation for a week. As always, Chanel executives declined to discuss results, but industry sources indicate the new counter has been churning out daily increases of 15 percent. Those sources estimate the new unit could produce retail sales of more than $2 million for the first 12 months, far outstripping last year’s $1.6 million.

— Pete Born