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NEW YORK — Avon’s BeComing may be out at J.C. Penney, but some other mass color brands could be finding their way in.
This story first appeared in the February 7, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The names of two J.C. Penney beauty executives have recently been added to the list of retailer attendees at the Efficient Consumer Response Management cosmetics, fragrance and bath trade show to be held at the Orlando Renaissance Resort later this month. The four-day event presents the wares of traditional drugstore brands from niche lines like Petunia and Heaven to industry leaders like Revlon and Maybelline.
Charlie Bowlus, president of ECRM said this is not the first show to be attended by Penney’s buyers, and the retailer made its first appearance last year.
A Penney’s spokeswoman said their presence doesn’t “mean one thing or another” about Penney’s future beauty plans. “We are always looking and exploring opportunities. We always want to have the right merchandise mix for our customers and this is not an indication that we are going to do this. But, our buyers have to stay on top of trends.”
Still, separately, industry sources said Penney’s has been seeking meetings with mass cosmetics manufacturers to discuss the possibility of bringing in different offerings than in the past.
As reported, last Friday Penney’s announced it would be clearing out its existing cosmetics offerings to make room for more accessories. That means ending a test with Avon’s BeComing retail brand in 90 stores and closing out Revlon’s Ultima II, which was carried in 435 doors. Iman from Color Me Beautiful had been in 280 doors and Flori Roberts and Fashion Fair line were each sold in 50 stores. The Professionals collection, a signature line for Penney’s has already been cut. Penney’s will retain Dermablend and eb5 treatment brands, fragrances, cosmetics color kits and gift sets.
“This is a decision that was made by J.C. Penney. We have been working with them for some time in an attempt to make their color cosmetic category work for them and are disappointed, but not surprised, by their decision,” said Elizabeth Kenny, senior vice president of marketing for Almay and the Portfolio brands, which includes Ultima II.
“As a part of Revlon Inc., this business represented less than 1 percent of total sales and does not have a significant impact on our overall business. For our valued customers in the U.S. and abroad who carry Ultima II, we will continue to support them and manage the business as appropriate.”
Industry consultant Allan Mottus said Penney’s is going the way of Sears, which discontinued its Circle of Beauty brand last year. “They are not going out of fragrance and bath, they are not getting rid of personal care. Those items are clearly a convenience for shoppers.”
Mottus added, “They never had beauty advisers so it is not a huge commitment to exit it. Revlon tested selling Almay and Revlon in some Dallas stores so you can’t rule out an expansion into mass market brands.” The Valley View Mall in Dallas had been used as one of the Revlon test sites last year.
Meanwhile, Avon said it was not closing the door to other retail endeavors, including acquisitions that could break it into new markets.
Regarding the BeComing brand, the buyer for a small regional drugstore chain remarked, “BeComing is an attractive line. Many drugstores have successfully sold Avon products before and I can’t rule out that BeComing could work in mass stores.”
For now, Avon said BeComing will sold through its direct sales force.