By Laura Klepacki
NEW YORK — Todd C. First, an original member of the Jane Cosmetics management team, has been named general manager of the teen cosmetics brand, its parent, The Estée Lauder Cos., announced Thursday.
First succeeds Sandy Cataldo, the brand’s former president, who left the company two weeks ago to pursue another opportunity.
Jane Cosmetics, created eight years ago, is recognized as a forerunner in the teen beauty movement, as one of the first brands to exclusively address the teen market. Over the past two years, however, Jane’s sales stumbled as more competitors entered the market.
Dan Brestle, group president for The Estée Lauder Cos., said the execution of Jane’s recent merchandising change — from an in-store fixture to a carded program — contributed to the brand’s falloff last year. According to Information Resources Inc., retail sales of Jane slid 27 percent to $23 million for the year ended July 14. These figures do not include sales at Wal-Mart, which can represent a sizable portion — 20 to 30 percent — of a brand’s business.
“We haven’t been as attuned to the business as we could have been,” remarked Brestle on Thursday. “But that is one of the reasons Todd has been given this position, because of his experience. He brings an energy level to the brand and is perfect because he has the passion for the brand. He is one of the original players and he has a vision for Jane.”
First, previously vice president of sales at Jane, now reports to Brestle.
“Jane has great potential and a loyal consumer,” said First. “There is a lot of potential left in the brand.”
In agreeing with Brestle, First added that one of his first priorities will be looking at “how the consumer sees Jane at the wall.” He noted that there are exciting new products coming also, but declined to provide details.
Through yearend, “we are not looking to expand distribution, but to do better business for our existing customers — to be in the right stores with the right retailers,” said Brestle, who assured that Jane was considered an important piece of Lauder’s diversified business approach. “If you look at our corporate structure, alternate distribution is important to us — whether it is the salon business or the mass cosmetics business. It is all important to our growth and our future.”
Before joining Jane, First had worked on the sales team of the Cover Girl brand for 11 years. He was lured to the teen brand after he happened to meet up with one of the brand’s founders in front of a Kmart store. “He discussed with me what they were doing and told me they were looking for someone to do sales. I decided to take the opportunity,” recalled First. Since joining Jane, First has worked to build Jane’s sales and was responsible for securing its current 15,000-door distribution. He has also developed Jane’s strategic sales and trade marketing plans.
The company has been devising other means to get the brand noticed. For the second year, Jane will be doing the makeup during Fashion Week for the YM MegaDenim show on September 23. It also is finalizing its sponsorship plans for the Stores-A-Go-Go event, slated for September 22, which will feature a series of designers with shops on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.