Organic Pharmacy Opens First Store in U.S.

The Organic Pharmacy has begun doling out its prescription for Americans’ health and beauty.

Organic Pharmacy's inaugural U.S. location.

The Organic Pharmacy has begun doling out its prescription for Americans’ health and beauty.

This story first appeared in the December 5, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The London-based retailer and products brand opened the first of what is expected to be several U.S. locations Nov. 18 on North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. A near replica of existing stores, the 1,000-square-foot location demonstrates The Organic Pharmacy’s confidence that its dedication to homeopathic and herbal remedies has international appeal.

“I think we have a really good, solid base in the U.K. Our name is trusted, and we wanted to do the same thing in America,” said Margo Marrone, who, with husband Francesco, launched The Organic Pharmacy in 2002 on London’s Kings Road. “We have had a lot of American clients over the years and their response is fantastic, so we thought now is the time.”

The Organic Pharmacy decided on Beverly Hills for its American premiere because it considered the neighborhood’s residents hospitable to alternative therapies and organic products.

“When we saw the Beverly Hills location in particular, we felt that it was perfect for our typical customer, women who are between the age of 18 and 70, who are very open to looking after their health, paying attention to not just their skin but their inner health,” said Marrone. “Women all over the world want the same thing.”

The Beverly Hills location contains the full range of The Organic Pharmacy-branded products, covering a wide array of health and beauty categories from men’s to baby and antiaging skin care to makeup. Day creams run from $55 to $250, cleansers from $55 to $84 and body care items from $34 to $295.

The products are assorted by classification in gridlike gleaming white shelves that line the walls. The centerpiece of the store is an apothecary-style dispensary, and there are rooms for treatments and health assessments behind the general retailing space. The store’s ceilings and walls are white, and the flooring is a light wood. A blue logo with The Organic Pharmacy’s take on the Red Cross emblem adorns products and the white storefront awning.

Marrone, a pharmacist who turned to homeopathy after being dismayed by the impersonality of traditional medicine, handles product development, and her husband handles branding and store design. Marrone explained that her husband aimed for The Organic Pharmacy to look “clean and professional” in contrast to the “very green, rustic” look characteristic of early organic companies.

In The Organic Pharmacy’s four London locations, products account for 70 percent of sales, and skin care is the best-selling category. Carrot Butter Cleanser, at $58 for 2.63 ounces, is the best-selling product. According to Kerry Wall, an assistant manager and beauty therapist at The Organic Pharmacy, skin care products are made from 95 percent to 98 percent organic ingredients. No petrochemicals, parabens, artificial colors, preservatives or fragrances are used.

Services constitute the remaining 30 percent of sales. The two top services are the Rose Crystal Lymphatic Facial, priced at $160 in the U.S., and the Health Assessment, which is $170 for 90 minutes and covers cholesterol; vitamin, mineral and acid levels; digestive disorders; organ function, and stress.

The Organic Pharmacy has pulled back its wholesale product distribution to some 50 stores from a peak of 300 to concentrate on selling in its own stores and branded in-store environments, including three in the U.K.’s Fenwicks. In terms of product introductions, Marrone is focusing on a mascara to enhance The Organic Pharmacy’s Organic Glam makeup range and five organic fragrances for next year.

Store expansion plans call for another U.K. location, in London’s financial district in December and a second U.S. location in New York next year. Marrone pointed to California’s Orange County, Tokyo and San Francisco as potential sites for future locations. In the U.S, The Organic Pharmacy stores could generate $1.9 million in yearly revenues.

Marrone forecasted that The Organic Pharmacy would grow 30 to 40 percent this year after doubling its business in the three prior years. It is estimated that annual turnover is roughly $9.3 million.

“The U.S. is a great market for us. We hope to establish a good base there, slowly,” said Marrone. “We still look at ourselves as a small company. It is myself and Francesco that run it. We have no external funding. We are very passionate about what we do. In order for us to expand, we need to do it right and find the right locations.”