“Our expansion in bricks-and-mortar wasn’t on plan when we launched five years ago — we were focused on the subscription-box model and on sampling,” said Katia Beauchamp, cofounder and chief executive officer of Birchbox. “But as we evolved, we realized that this business is about underserved consumers. We can’t be just one channel. And as we have become a much larger company, it’s become really important for us to have both expertise and entrepreneurial tenacity. Our roots are online and user experience is key — we want to make sure they will be delighted in-store, too. It made sense to focus on hiring a team with extensive experience in retail.”
Philippe Pinatel has been named chief operations officer and president. Pinatel comes to Birchbox with nearly 20 years of experience at Sephora and Guerlain International. He leads functions including merchandising, product development, retail, operations and international, with a focus on strategic growth and reinforcing the company as a major beauty retailer.
Beauchamp noted that Pinatel’s background — which includes stints as senior vice president and general manager of Sephora Canada, managing director of Guerlain France and vice president and general manager of Sephora Inside J.C. Penney, where he was responsible for omnichannel efforts that led to a measurable gain in market share and increase in sales — will allow him to “help us realize the next chapter of our multibillion dollar vision.”
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Ben Fay has been tapped as vice president of retail development & customer experience. In this role, Fay is responsible for translating Birchbox’s core brand experience into store design concepts and overseeing execution of off-line growth. He previously spearheaded retail store design at Apple and J.C. Penney. Fay’s Apple background, noted Beauchamp, was especially attractive.
“Apple is a company that basically redefined how we shop, both in product assortment and in the retail experience,” Beauchamp said, noting that she hopes Birchbox customers will find the beauty shopping field equally as compelling with Fay’s leadership. “Part of our vision is there has to be a special reason for customers to come into your store,” Beauchamp said. “We have to be differentiated with purpose, based on what the customer needs.”
Andrew Lande-Shannon is Birchbox’s new design director of off-line retail, responsible for spearheading the visual merchandising creative for all of the company’s offline initiatives. He previously held executive and creative director roles at firms including Joe Fresh, Prada, J.Jill, Theory and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Douglas Simpson has been named vice president of retail. Prior to Birchbox, he spent seven years at Juicy Couture, where he opened more than 60 stores. His background also includes roles at Gucci, Banana Republic and Bed Bath & Beyond.
In addition to its new retail team, Birchbox has added a color cosmetics line of its own, LOC — an acronym for Love of Color. A second Birchbox line will be released in January, although Beauchamp declined to discuss specifics.
LOC is one of many color brands sold by Birchbox; others include Benefit, Mally Beauty and Laura Mercier. In total, Beauchamp noted, the site sells more than 800 beauty, grooming and lifestyle brands on its site. Beauchamp said roughly 50 percent of Birchbox’s one million subscribers go on to buy full-sized products online or in its SoHo store, making full-sized sales 35 percent of the company’s overall revenues.
Earlier this month, the brand opened a shop at Rent the Runway’s Georgetown storefront in Washington, D.C., and while Beauchamp praised the partnership, she noted that she has a yen for Birchbox to eventually run a chain of its own stores. She declined to reveal specifics about future plans.
Birchbox’s Birchbox Man launched in 2012, and the company opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in SoHo in 2014. The store was “refreshed” earlier this month and will “guide” future units.
Birchbox has more than a million subscribers and operates in six countries, including the U.S., France, Spain, the U.K., Belgium and Canada.