LONDON — Victoria’s Secret Beauty is embarking on the Grand Tour.
The division of Intimate Brands will hold a press conference here today at The Hempel, unveiling plans to cross the Atlantic and enter the British travel retail market, exclusively at World Duty Free — the retail arm of BAA, which has built its name on luxury fragrance and fashion retailing.
“This is an amazingly important launch for us. If it’s half as successful as we expect, it will be huge,” said Mark Riches, managing director of World Duty Free in an interview earlier this month.
The Victoria’s Secret beauty assortment, which has previously only been retailed in the U.S., including in military outlets, will make its debut in seven airport locations in mid-November, including all four terminals of Heathrow Airport, Gatwick North and South and at Stansted Airport. Victoria’s Secret executives said the November launch date was picked to capitalize on the gathering holiday traffic.
Sherry Baker, president of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, said in an interview in New York that the brand has spent its formative years in the U.S. building consumer awareness and encouraging product trial. Now, the brand will be able to capitalize on that awareness abroad, without the burdensome expense of brick-and-mortar investment.
While executives said there are no plans to sell Victoria’s Secret lingerie — it’s a tiny segment in travel retail — the power of the company’s image, first experienced when the annual fashion show was held in Cannes, is not lost on any of them.
Jill Granoff, chief operating officer of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, added that the company was attracted by the $5 billion market, which makes up the global travel retail business for just beauty. “This is a toe in the water,” said Granoff. “We want to learn about the consumer.”
The executives were quick to assert that World Duty Free owns a 20 percent share of fragrance sales in the U.K. They added that Victoria’s Secret will be setting up shop in the world’s busiest airport.
Victoria’s Secret has drafted a multiyear development plan, with an eye toward an eventual global exploration. Granoff noted that half the travel retail business is centered in Europe with the bulk of the remainder scattered around Asia. She added that Victoria’s Secret has the rights to merchandising its Aura Science brand in Asian travel retail distribution. Aura Science is jointly owned by Limited Brands and the Tokyo-based Shiseido.
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Victoria’s Secret will put a strong emphasis on its assortment of prestige-priced fragrances in entering the travel retail market, Baker said, noting, “That’ll be a driver.”
Granoff said another strong element in the merchandising attack will be Victoria’s Secret’s assortment of “giftable” merchandise — everything from plush toy dogs to tree ornaments holding fragrances to gift set bags to color cosmetics kits.
Sandra Heppenheimer, who has been recruited as vice president of new business development for Victoria’s Secret Beauty, said she sees an avenue of attack in what she calls a “white space opportunity,” consisting of these gift-giving, novel and accessories items that few other vendors carry.
At BAA, Riches noted, “we have a wish list of brands and Victoria’s Secret is obviously one of them. It ticks all the boxes with us: It’s aspirational, currently not available in the U.K. and internationally recognized.” He added that, while the airport customer may not be aware of the beauty brand in particular, she knows exactly what Victoria’s Secret is. “People read magazines and they watch ‘Sex and the City.’ The brand name is so strong, and the company is so good at managing lifestyle.”
He added that BAA’s exclusivity factor should also go a long way. “We’re about giving passengers the brands of their dreams and brands they wouldn’t necessarily find on the High Street. People want to spoil themselves when they’re traveling, they become aspirational with regard to their purchases. We want to provide for those aspirations.”
Some eight fragrance lines — and their related products — will be sold from within showcase shops in Terminals 1 and 3 of Heathrow and in Gatwick South. Victoria’s Secret will not have its own stand-alone corners, but rather 150-square-foot spaces with at least one dedicated salesperson. The brands on sale will include Dream Angels Heavenly, Pink, Body by Victoria, Breathless, Very Sexy for Her, Very Sexy for Him, Very Sexy for Her 2 and Very Sexy for Him 2.
In addition to the three showcase shops, there also will be four satellite locations in Terminals 2 and 4 of Heathrow, Gatwick North and at Stansted.
While the exact position of the Victoria’s Secret counters is still being finalized, Riches said they will be in “main flow areas, and easily visible.” He declined to provide any sales targets. However, industry sources indicate that a conservative stance has been adopted in drafting the sales plan. The target for the first 12 months has been estimated by sources at less than $10 million at retail for the combined pilot locations.
“We are all incredibly excited about this,” Riches said. “We all get on very well. The chemistry was good from the start,” he added. “There is complete trust between us, and we see this as the beginning of a journey.” He said the launch would be accompanied by in-terminal and airport magazine advertising.
This is not the first time that beauty brands have chosen to launch exclusively with World Duty Free. Gucci, Chanel and MAC Cosmetics chose to launch their first stand-alone airport stores in Heathrow’s Terminal 3. When Armani Cosmetics debuted in London, it launched at Harvey Nichols, and at Heathrow’s Terminal 3, exclusively.
— Samantha Conti, London, and Pete Born, New York
Lorenzo Back to Givenchy
PARIS — Alain Lorenzo, former president and chief executive officer of Parfums Givenchy, is getting his old job back, WWD has learned.
According to market sources, Givenchy staffers were informed of the appointment on Friday. An official announcement from Givenchy parent LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is expected shortly.
Lorenzo could not be reached for comment at press time.
The fate of current Parfums Givenchy head Alain Crevet could not be learned. He also could not be reached for comment.
Lorenzo has had a long and varied career at LVMH, most recently as the first ceo of De Beers LV, where he oversaw the opening of its London flagship and three in-store boutiques in Japan. He was succeeded in March by former Cartier chief Guy Leymarie and relocated to Paris to work on undisclosed projects for LVMH.
Before that, Lorenzo was the president and ceo of another new LVMH venture, the eluxury.com Web site, which was launched in 2000.
But he is best known for his eight-year tenure at Parfums Givenchy, lauded by LVMH honchos for his talent for marketing, image building and brand rejuvenation.
Lorenzo arrives at a time when the Givenchy fashion house is in flux. It recently welcomed Savile Row tailor Ozwald Boateng as its first artistic director for men’s wear, but a couturier to succeed Julien Macdonald on the women’s side has yet to be named.