Kathy Steirly

Walgreens’ divisional vice president of beauty Kathy Steirly, had the tough task of telling many vendors that their footage or their lines were being cut.

As The Industry Turns

Walgreens’ divisional vice president of beauty Kathy Steirly, had the tough task at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Annual Meeting of telling many vendors that their footage or their lines were being cut from the future look of Walgreens.

Vendors who met with her could sense the anguish in telling suppliers who had been a part of the Walgreens family that they weren’t turning up to par.

Just two weeks later, Steirly herself has become part of the editing as she departs her post at Walgreens along with two seasoned veterans — one with just shy of 30 years and the other with more than 30 years at the chain.

Walgreens has a much-publicized effort to revitalize its look. Some 35 stores will sport this redesign by early summer and as many as 400 could have the pared-back prototype in the fall. Stockkeeping units are being pared by as much as 15 to 20 percent. Gone will be “redundant” sku’s in order to focus on “affordable essentials,” such as skin care.

The goal is to create a more exciting shopping experience. But, will the selection reduction in beauty cut into sales? The jury is out. Will an editing assortment turn consumers off? One colleague visited a store in search of a simple item such as a hair brush to only find two choices — neither suited his needs.

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Steirly’s departure marks another major change in the faces at the nation’s drugstore chains. Although she came out of discount stores, Steirly spent her most recent time in the drugstore industry‚ at Eckerd then Walgreens. She’s known for having a sense of what consumers want and carrying that out in selection and store design. Her presence at Walgreens will surely be missed.

She’s not the only major industry icon that won’t be strolling the halls at NACDS Marketplace next month. Drug Fair’s Gerri Pienta will be missing — ironically at the hands of Walgreens’ acquisition of her former employer, the Drug Fair chain. From a supplier side, gone will be Tom Winarick’s smiling face. He left Prestige Cosmetics earlier this year. Lisa Yarnell, whose Jane sought Chapter 11 protection recently, will be absent from Marketplace. Her familiar booth of years past will be missing from the scene. Also absent will be the exciting new items that could always be found there, as well as its soft carpet and warm cookies.

One well known industry executive is even manning a fishing boat in Costa Rica rather than working the beauty business (we’ll keep that name a secret!). Back in the fold, however, will be Bill George of Markwins who returns to his post at the firm.

At one time, the chain drugstore industry was almost a sorority house of mostly women (a few men) who knew and loved to get together to chat about the business. Many of their stores didn’t overlap so they could share success stories without giving away secrets. Today, with fewer chains, the landscape is dramatically different. Competition is stiff and some of the camaraderie is gone. The legends are being replaced by another generation, leaving many to wonder if the merchandising acumen that built chain drugstore retailing is disappearing as well.

NEXT: People, Place and Things >>


People, Place and Things

A few words with Ingrid Jackel, chief executive officer of Physicians Formula on the state of the beauty business.

WWDBeautyNews: Retailers are cutting inventories and destocking items. What does that mean to the retail environment?

Jackel: It hurts consumption. Some retailers are only maybe stocking in their top 1,000 stores with sku’s. What about the others?

WWDBeautyNews: What are you doing as a company to get things going?

Jackel: Our 2010 is very exciting. We have new franchises within natural and mineral and some excitement in color. We’re expanding in new directions. We need to stimulate shoppers.


What’s In Store:

CCA And Rite Aid At Living In Pink: Dunnan D. Edell, president and chief operating officer of CCA Industries joined Judy Wray, Rite Aid category manager of cosmetics; Marcia Stein, ceo of the Young Survival Coalition; Kathy DeLorenzo, Rite Aid cosmetic buyer, and Jim Gonedes, CCA Industries executive vice president of marketing, at In Living Pink, the 10th anniversary celebration of the Young Survival Coalition(YSC), at the Edison Ball Room in New York City on Thursday, April 23, 2009. CCA’s Nutra Nail has donated nearly $400,000 to YSC, the premier international organization dedicated to critical issues unique to women diagnosed with breast cancer at ages 40 and under.

Shawn Haynes Names Senior Vice President of Sales:
Shawn Haynes, formerly the senior vice president of marketing and global brand development for Markwins Beauty Products, Inc., has been appointed senior vice president of sales.