By  on September 9, 2008

LONDON — Michelle Feeney is turning up the heat in St. Tropez.

Feeney, the self-tanning brand’s chief executive officer, is rejiggering its approach to retail by offering services in department stores here. St. Tropez corners are planned for chains, including House of Fraser, Selfridges and Debenhams, where shoppers will be offered instant full-body spray tans.

In a country starved of significant doses of summer sunshine, tests of the concept already have been a hit here, according to Feeney.

In June, St. Tropez set up “cabanas” located at the entrance to Selfridges’ Oxford Street beauty floor, for example, offering spray tan services for 15 pounds, or $26.27 at current exchange, which was redeemable against product purchases. (Usually a St. Tropez spray tan is priced at about 30 pounds, or $52.54.)

“In two weeks, we did what we would have done in six months,” said Feeney, adding that a 150-square-foot space in a Debenhams store in Liverpool, England, also opened in June, offering similar services. “Compared to our top Debenhams account [without the concept], sales were up 300 percent.”

A St. Tropez space in a Debenhams store in the MetroCentre shopping mall in Gateshead, England, has also since opened.

Adding services at retail counters is part of Feeney’s plan to reposition the brand as a global beauty player.

“My aim is to take it to where it should be,” she said. “St. Tropez is a cult brand, but it hasn’t been behaving like a fully fledged beauty brand.”

As reported, Feeney has been bolstering the brand’s luxury positioning by tweaking the brand’s logo, streamlining its packaging and updating its advertising campaign by tapping fashion photographer Solve Sundsbo.

“There was no marketing calendar for new product development [before I arrived in September 2007],” Feeney said. “Now we have a three-year [new product development] plan.”

That plan includes tanning products specifically developed for use in the winter, which will bow next month, and “tan-perfecting” color cosmetics, which are slated for January.

Feeney said she expects sales to grow by 26 percent over the next year. The brand’s annual sales weigh in at more than 50 million pounds, or $87.6 million, at retail.

The U.K. and Ireland, which currently generate 70 percent of the brand’s turnover, along with the U.S. will be Feeney’s focus for the next three years. In the U.S., she plans to have a retail partner in place by January.

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