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Walgreens in Beauty Shakeup

Head beauty merchant Kathy Steirly and other vice presidents leave the beauty chain Walgreens.

Walgreen Co.’s head beauty merchant, Kathy Steirly, has left the drugstore chain, as the retailer attempts to retool and rejuvenate its image within the beauty industry.

This story first appeared in the May 7, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Steirly, along with William Hubbs and Arnold Silver — both who had careers spanning more than two decades — left their vice president posts at Walgreens Wednesday morning. Steirly, divisional vice president and general merchandise manager of Walgreens Beauty, was the well-respected face of the company to the mass market beauty industry. Their departures come on the heels of the 6,600-unit drugstore chain’s declaration it intends to remake its image with a new store prototype designed to emphasize skin care and cosmetics.

To that end, during a keynote address at the Personal Care Products Council’s annual meeting in February, Walgreens’ chief executive officer, Gregory Wasson, said, “We’re looking at how we can redesign signature categories. Our beauty departments are one-size-fits-all now, and we think there is an opportunity to have an expanded focus on beauty in certain locations.” In its flagship Times Square location in New York, Walgreens has elevated its beauty merchandising with a 320-square-foot L’Oréal Paris boutique, which includes slide-out shelves, product testers and floor-to-ceiling visuals.

Walgreens has already begun trimming its employee base, cutting 200 posts in March with the goal of eliminating 1,000 jobs by the end of August.