By  on September 23, 1994

HUDSON, Ohio -- A Revco beauty department, suppliers say, is like a road map: Every aisle and avenue is reliably and clearly marked, and everything is where it is supposed to be.

"When a promotion is supposed to be out, you can go into any store and it is there. They have strong systems in place," said Harry Hart, senior vice president of corporate trade development for Revlon.

Revco's tight operating philosophy, coupled with its sharp new prototype, have earned the chain honors. And Revco, beauty suppliers added, has achieved its success in just two short years, after filing for Chapter 11 in 1992.

With the addition of the Hook and SupeRx units Revco acquired in April of this year, Revco's sales are expected to reach $4.7 billion this year.

That would place Revco, which is based in Twinsburg, Ohio, in a tie with PayLess/Thrifty as the nation's second-largest drug chain in volume. Walgreen Co., based in Deerfield, Ill., remains the market leader, with sales of $9.2 billion in the fiscal year ended August 31.

Revco had net income of $14.2 million on sales of $2.2 billion in 1993, with an estimated $110 million done in cosmetics.

The chain used to operate tiny stores with a pharmacy located in the front. Little attention was paid to beauty, which consisted of only low-end selections and mass fragrances.

Now Revco situates its pharmacy in the rear of the store, leaving room to bring cosmetics up to a prominent location in a front corner.

The chain's 12,000-square-foot store in Hudson, Ohio, is a perfect example of the new beauty power of Revco. Most of the chain's 2,100 units are in the process of renovating with the updated look and all are slated to have it by June 1996. All told, the chain is spending $100 million on the store-renovation plan.

The cosmetics area in the Hudson store is to the left of the entrance, with the centerpiece being a glass fragrance case.

Revco wanted to enter the lucrative prestige fragrance business, but since most of its stores are self-serve, the chain needed a way to prevent pilferage of the pricey brands.

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