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John Barrett Inks Deal With Saks Fifth Avenue, Outlines Growth Plan

John Barrett will be Saks’ in-store salon/spa partner in the U.S. and Canada, and plans 15 new John Barrett salons in Saks doors by 2017.

NEW YORK — John Barrett Holdings LLC is plotting expansion throughout North America.

The company has just inked a deal with Saks Fifth Avenue, making John Barrett the official in-store salon and spa partner for Saks in the U.S. and, eventually, Canada. The plan is to open 15 new John Barrett salons in Saks doors by year-end 2017.

Talks began when Saks went through several seismic shifts in its business last fall, said Jim Hedges, chief executive officer of John Barrett Holdings. “We knew that Saks was at an inflection point,” Hedges said. “They’d been acquired, they had an evolving management team, they had recapitalized part of their balance sheet, which enabled them to free up capital for growing the business and refurbishing the business. I knew that they were committed to the salon space, because they had nine existing locations with both salons and spas.

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“We plan to invest heavily in the infrastructure, equipment and technology for each salon location,” continued Hedges. “The foundation is set to deliver entirely new and singular concepts for the Saks client, including new service menus, spa treatment protocols, luxury retail offerings in the salon and beyond. John Barrett’s plans are to reinvent the luxury salon experience to become the new standard of luxury and care.”

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Added Barrett, founder and creative director of John Barrett Holdings: “Together we can reimagine the department store luxury salon experience and elevate it to an entirely new level.”

John Barrett Holdings is in the process of taking over salon and spa operations in select Saks locations, and plans to continually renovate existing salons and spas.

The locations first in line for renovation are Saks’ New York City flagship, as well as stores in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.; Bal Harbour and Boca Raton, Fla.; Chevy Chase, Md.; McLean, Va.; Huntington Station, N.Y.; San Antonio; St. Louis, and Troy, Mich.

The first two new salons will be at Sherway Gardens and Centre Eaton, both in Toronto. These will quickly be followed by new locations in Houston and Las Vegas.

Salon design and renovations will be led by Tricarico Architecture and Design, said Hedges, and staff at all of the new locations will be chosen and trained by Barrett himself.

“We want to live in a 360-degree environment,” Hedges said. “A luxury hair salon brings lots of traffic. For instance, at our Bergdorf Goodman salon we brought almost 70,000 customers into the store last year. When a lady or a gentleman leaves our salon, if we’ve done our job right, they’ve had an extraordinary experience. So when a customer leaves our environment, feeling like a million bucks, they may go downstairs and spend some money. We want to be connected to the whole store.”

For instance, “we believe that technology should exist in the salon environment in a way that is serving you and making you better,” Hedges said. “How can we utilize technology to up the ante of what you take away from that experience? I’m not talking about something simple like having an online booking app, although we will do those things. I’m talking about broader-based education and really harnessing the resources of Saks Fifth Avenue and John Barrett together. The salon should be a place of discovery. If we create brand discovery and brand re-engagement, for our customers, creating a beautiful edit of beauty products out there, then that independent, credible positioning will be very exciting for our customer. We’re also expanding into different types of luxury categories, from notecards to hostess gifts.”

New service menus will also be implemented, said Hedges. “Our opportunity is not only to create a 360-degree experience with Saks Fifth Avenue, but also to deliver new, delicious services and technologies that haven’t been available before.”

Barrett opened his first salon in the penthouse of Bergdorf Goodman in 1996, where his original salon remains as of press time. But not for much longer. “After 20 years atop Bergdorf Goodman, John Barrett will move its flagship to The Elizabeth Taylor Mansion on West 56th Street in late 2016,” Hedges said.

The 16,000-square-foot, six-story building at 10 West 56th Street was designed by the architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore — the architects behind Grand Central Terminal. The Beaux-Arts style mansion will house a 9,000-square-foot John Barrett salon, training and educational facilities and 3,500 square feet of luxury retail space. Architect Daniel Romualdez is leading the renovation of the building, which has a marble staircase; plaster-encrusted ceilings; antique Venetian chandeliers; a ballroom, and a formal garden terrace.

“Our company’s growth has outpaced our current space,” Hedges said. “We needed to grow our team and service offerings. At The Mansion, we will have ample room to add more staff and treatment rooms in addition to our JB Academy, executive offices and e-commerce fulfillment team.”

Other Barrett salons have opened recently, including on New York City’s  Bond Street and in Palm Beach, Fla., and a location at Westfield World Trade Center in New York City is forthcoming, said Hedges.