NEW YORK — Call it counter intelligence.

Chanel has begun a two-year counter overhaul strategy for its corporate installation counters — about 200 of the brand’s U.S. department and specialty store doors for beauty. About 30 doors are slated to be redone in the first half of 2004, while another 20 or so will be overhauled in the second half of 2004. The remainder will be redone in 2005.

Chanel’s color cosmetics and skin care products are available in about 800 U.S. department and specialty store doors, while its fragrances are available in about 3,000 U.S. department and specialty store doors. Those doors being overhauled are those featuring custom-designed counters built by Chanel for the retailer on a corporate basis.

The latest to get the look — this week — is Saks Fifth Avenue’s Beverly Hills door, and Macy’s South Coast Plaza door has also just been updated. “About two years ago, on a global basis, we implemented a new counter look,” said Jean Hoehn Zimmerman, executive vice president of marketing and sales for fragrance and beauté for Chanel, who describes the new counters as “lighter, using a lot more white and a lot less black. Many feature transparencies and other visual imageries. Overall, there is more luxury showcasing of product.”

While each door in the U.S. will get a slightly different version of the look —?“these are all one-offs, customized for the space the door has available for us,” said Hoehn Zimmerman — they will have several elements in common. All will use the signature Chanel black and white, although the new versions include more white than black fixturing. Where space allows, play stations for color and open-sell will be added.

“When we put in new counters, we generally see sales jumps of 10 to 20 percent,” said Hoehn Zimmerman, adding that in October, the brand saw an 11 percent increase in cosmetics and a 7 percent increase in fragrance sales.

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