David Suliteanu is an unlikely revolutionary. A retail veteran, he began his career at Bullocks in Los Angeles and steadily worked his way up the department store ranks to the position of vice chairman and director of stores at Macy’s East. He then spent two years as group president of diversified businesses at The Home Depot before joining Sephora in 2000. Under his tenure as president and chief executive officer, the number of stores has quintupled and sales have grown by a factor of 14. Suliteanu’s strategy basically lays in forgetting everything he learned as a department store retailer, making him the perfect choice for the cover of our Renegade issue, in which we’re celebrating those who have pioneered new ways to do business—and won.
“The predominant language spoken by retailers was a brand language. It was developed by the department store approach, which was brand- centric and continues to be brand-centric today,” Suliteanu told me over the course of my reporting for “Forging a New Model.” “Our approach from the beginning was never brand-centric. It was always client-centric.” That approach has led Sephora to implement some unorthodox—and extremely successful—methods for selling beauty products, be it by singling out a mere six products from thousands as the month’s must-buys or setting up in-store play stations where patrons can do anything from manicures to makeovers. Suliteanu’s current goal is equally audacious: to become the number-one prestige beauty retailer in America. Find out the strategy he and his senior management team have devised to achieve just that.
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