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Art of Shaving Unveils New Retail Concept

Procter & Gamble Co.-owned men's grooming marketer has developed four new store prototypes.

The Art of Shaving’s shop and “Barber Spa” at Aventura Mall in Miami.

The Art of Shaving is getting a facelift.

This story first appeared in the April 29, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Procter & Gamble Co.-owned manufacturer and retailer of men’s grooming products, which has about 39 locations, has kicked off a store overhaul strategy that so far includes four new prototypes and calls for an eventual upgrade of all its shops.

Two existing stores — at Aventura Mall in Miami and at Lenox Square in Atlanta — have so far been remodeled. And two new stores, one opened this month at the Shops at Northbridge in Chicago and one opening next month at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Ill., reflect the new design.

“The goal of the redesign is to use this platform for new stores,” said Eric Malka, who cofounded the company with his wife, Myriam Zaoui, when they opened a store in Manhattan in fall 1996. “Early signs show very promising results.”

The new store format is meant to conjure the atmosphere of an intimate men’s club, according to Malka — “environments that people want to spend time in.”

In addition to a traditional wood motif, the store design uses tufted leather adornment around the point of sale area, accents of polished nickel and white Carrara marble and a “hub table,” or demonstration island, featuring a sink and product displays, where customers can play with items from the firm’s product assortment.

“It’s the centerpiece of the new concept,” Malka said of the demonstration island, adding it fosters a “sensorial” experience. “It’s a draw for consumers, to pull them into the store and interact with our products.”

Zaoui and Malka collaborated with New York-based creative services firm Pompei A.D. LLC to create the stores.

Barber services, such as shaves, are available at some of the redesigned stores, dubbed “Barber Spas,” but not at others in order to “track and learn” which format works best, said Malka.

In June, P&G armed itself to target the premium male shopper with two acquisitions in two weeks — the purchase of The Art of Shaving for an estimated $60 million on June 1, followed by the acquisition of upscale men’s grooming brand Zirh Holdings for an estimated $40 million.

Since The Art of Shaving’s acquisition by the Cincinnati-based consumer products giant, “in general we’ve infused more resources,” said Malka. “P&G’s scale has allowed us to take advantage of opportunities The Art of Shaving has, and the business has been going very well.”

The Art of Shaving, based in Miami, operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of P&G and is staffed by its original team of executives as well as some P&G executives, Malka noted.

Since embarking on a retail expansion strategy five years ago, The Art of Shaving has opened 35 stores and, with the support of P&G, the firm plans to continue expansion.

“The goal is to grow The Art of Shaving brand and retail is an important part of that strategy,” said Malka. Aside from shaving items, The Art of Shaving’s product assortment includes skin care items, hair and body care products and fragrance. In addition to its own shops, its products are carried at about 750 to 800 stores, including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Sephora and selected Macy’s locations.

The brand’s stores now range in size from 250 to 1,500 square feet, but moving forward shops will be in the 750- to 1,000-square-foot range, noted Malka.

According to industry sources, The Art of Shaving had sales of about $30 million in 2008.

Discussing the firm’s performance, he said, “We experienced some flatness [from the economic downturn] but have rebounded extremely well since then.”