On the heels of strong first-half results, Fabrizio Freda made the rounds with media reporters and analysts this week to reinforce his strategy for the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., which is beginning to crystallize seven months after he took over the helm as president and chief executive officer.
“This recession was a wake-up call for the industry,” he told journalists on Wednesday. Freda forecast a recovery in the U.S. market will likely begin in earnest this July. “In the first 18 months of recovery, the most change happens,” he said. Change is already in motion at Lauder, where Freda has introduced sweeping cultural, financial and organizational changes since last July.
Despite U.S. department stores’ struggles, Freda reiterated the firm’s commitment to the prestige channel. The confident and energized ceo identified “high-touch” service as a primary focus for Lauder to differentiate its brands from other channels, noting that the Clinique counter at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street is, “the first real test of that high-touch direction.” There, Clinique offers a three-pronged approach to service: express replenishment, freedom to browse independently and one-on-one consultation. “We have learned that 45 percent [of shoppers] enter the department store for fast replenishment,” said Freda, explaining the need for the express service option.
He cited digital efforts as a key element of Lauder’s high-touch strategy. The company operates e-commerce platforms in nine of its biggest global markets, including China, as well as mobile phone e-commerce in Japan.
Lauder plans to allocate an undisclosed portion of a $50 million investment from cost savings to leverage its presence online and in other nontraditional channels. The balance of the investment will go toward consumer research, its equity-based rewards program, and research and development, particularly in Europe and Asia.
Freda’s strategy includes a rigorous assessment of Lauder’s underperforming businesses. The brands on his watch list represent $1 billion of the $7.3 billion company’s revenue. As reported, the company is unwinding its Prescriptives business. But, efforts to improve the Aramis and Designer Fragrances business are paying off, said Freda. After shifting to a strategy that supports fewer fragrance launches on a bigger and more global scale, the division is once again profitable.
The company also continues to set its sights abroad. When asked to name his favorite emerging market, Freda quipped, “China is one, two and three.” Freda, who travels to China every three months, said the company continues to make investments in R&D, distribution and e-commerce there. As a result, Estée Lauder has moved from the number-three prestige brand to the leading prestige brand in China, said Freda. Emerging markets represent about 12 percent of Lauder’s revenues.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye