PRINTEMPS TO EXPAND SELF-SERVICE CONCEPT

Byline: Alev Aktar

PARIS--Four years after introducing an innovative beauty concept at its Paris flagship--expanded self-service and homogeneous fixtures, even at the various brand counters--the French department store Printemps is rolling out the idea.
Next up for the 17-store chain is its unit in Rouen, where a renovated beauty department will open Sept. 19. It will be followed by similar installations in Evreux and Saumur at two of Printemps' 24 franchised stores before the end of the year.
Like the flagship, the Rouen store will offer self-service with assistance where needed-- but adapted for a smaller, 4,000-square-foot space. The flagship on Boulevard Haussman here has 24,750 square feet dedicated to beauty.
The Rouen store's cosmetics department will be set off from the rest of the store like an independent perfumery, with two street entrances. Three of the ground-floor display windows will be dedicated exclusively to promoting the category.
Unlike the bigger flagship, the Rouen Printemps will eliminate brand counters entirely in favor of merchandising by product category.
Printemps executives expect a 15 to 20 percent increase in beauty sales at the Rouen store in the first year after it opens next month. Since beauty sales were reportedly in the neighborhood of $4.2 million (21 million francs) last year, the renovations could boost cosmetics volume in Rouen to more than $5 million (25 million francs) in 1996.
Printemps is investing approximately $750,000 in the Rouen renovation, while the franchises are spending $100 to $120 per square foot, according to Beatrice de Reals, the store's buying director for beauty and accessories.
But the main goal is to establish Printemps as a beauty specialist in consumers' minds, de Reals said.
"We have to get to the point where we have our own strong identity as Printemps de la Beaute," she noted. "We want to be known as the beauty professional."
Printemps inaugurated its assisted self-service concept--the first of its kind in a French department store--in 1991. A beige color scheme was chosen for all fixturing, and all signs were erected at the same height on top of the counters. The intended effect was streamlined and uncluttered.
Cash registers were put at each counter as a time-saving innovation. In contrast, there are central registers (and long lines) in most French department stores.
Rival Galeries Lafayette responded by launching a shop-in-store project called Lafayette Beaute. The chain now has 13 outside Paris, and 20 more are scheduled to open next year, with 50 planned for 1997. All are staffed by Lafayette personnel wearing Lafayette uniforms.
Here are the major strategies for revamping the Printemps in Rouen:
The 12-brand counters will be removed, and products will be grouped by category, allowing a wider selection. In the prestige sector, for example, there will be 70 fragrance, 17 skin care, four hair care and 10 dermo-cosmetic brands.
The salespeople--15 Printemps beauty advisers and a pharmacist for dermo-cosmetic items--will sell all the brands. The 70 salespeople at the Printemps flagship do the same.
While most categories will be expanded, prestige makeup has been limited to 10 brands, down from 12. The products will be displayed in a self-service wall unit, and each brand will have a central mirror and showcase area to feature seasonal looks.
Prestige makeup brands will be set up in the same order, for instance, all lipsticks will be "at eye level," according to the company. Similarly, skin care and dermo-cosmetic products will be grouped by function.
Two small departments--home fragrances and beauty accessories--will link the perfumery to the rest of the store.l A 1,000-square-foot Jeanne Piaubert skin care institute will open in the basement, with treatment, waxing and tanning facilities. There will also be a manicure-by-appointment area on the main floor.
Customers walk out with Printemps bags or gift boxes--not brand bags.

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