Walgreens' Joe Magnacca, a Merchant With a Passion
The first time we met Joe Magnacca, now president of Daily Living Products and Solutions at Walgreens, he had just joined Duane Reade from Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada. He was at a press event for Wet ‘n’ Wild. Sometimes, but not often, buyers come to press parties but rarely does a top executive. He instantly stood out as a merchant with a passion for the beauty category.
During his time as Shoppers Drug Mart, he saw first hand how the category builds loyal shoppers. And, he witnessed that when done right, vendors who don’t typically sell to drugstores are willing to give the channel a try.
A few years later he was promoted to president of Duane Reade and his thoughts were translated into a new beauty format called Look Boutique. An enthusiastic Magnacca toured reporters through the store located smack across the street from Macy’s in Manhattan.The store truly represented a breakthrough in U.S. drugstore retailing. When Walgreens purchased Duane Reade, the retailer was savvy enough to retain not only Magnacca, but the beauty department concepts developed at Duane Reade under the Look Boutique banner. Magnacca’s title today is a mouthful, but so is his role at the nation’s largest drugstore chain.
His role in elevating beauty helped make Duane Reade Beauty Inc’s mass retailer of the year.
This week in Walgreens’ home market, Chicago, shoppers got to see the latest version of the Look Boutique. The department also benefits from the spot on touch of Shannon Curtin, the top beauty merchant at the chain. She and her team will monitor this “laboratory” store with a keen eye and experiment with other lines and services. The first beauty sale of the opening was $245. One blogger called the store “like Sephora having a cool yuppie kid.”
Not every Walgreens in America will sport the same upscale touches as the store opened on Randolph and State Street. However, Walgreens has several others on its plate including one that will bow in a few weeks in Las Vegas.At Walgreens’ shareholder meeting yesterday, attendees were treated to a mini Look Boutique erected at the Navy Pier. Indeed, beauty is a pillar Walgreens is building its future foundation on, along with other key categories.
Beauty isn’t the only wow department in the store. There are more than 700 wines, a humidor, an on-site sushi chef and a coffee bar with a barista.
At the annual meeting, Walgreens discussed long-term plans. Among those is the goal to transform stores from traditional drugstores to retail health and daily living outlets. The use of iPads is helping pharmacists play a greater role in health care. Much has been said of the fusion of health and beauty in stores. Walgreens is showing how that concept can be a reality.
People, Places and Things
Target wowed the press yesterday with new concept shops that will debut in May at select stores and be “open” for about six weeks. Beauty is among those with an exclusive partnership with Cos Bar, known best for its position in upscale resorts such as Aspen. Target’s director of fashion and design partnership Brian Robinson discussed the concept. In addition to Cos Bar, the initial group of specialty shops includes The Candy Store in San Francisco, which sells hard-to-find retro sweets as well as candy from abroad; The Privet House, a retailer that sells vintage furniture and home accessories in Warren, and Greenwich, Conn.; The Webster House, a designer clothing store in Miami, and Polka Dog Bakery in Boston.
Robinson: This puts Target at the frontier of what’s next in retail. With (these shops), we’re building on that sense of discovery by offering our guests a chance to experience one-of-kind specialty stores and boutiques through collections that have been specifically tailored to their wants and needs. Target will continue to seek new partnerships with designers as it has in the past.
Robinson: This is such a different idea because of one simple notion, it is co-created. So its not product that is in the shops today that we are bringing to Target, it is product that has not existed before.
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