NEW YORK — Georgette Klinger salons are about to get a taste of what they’ve been preaching for more than 50 years.
A makeover is in the works for the nine-unit chain to include a massive revamp to its Manhattan location, as well as a new brand identity, a new logo, new treatments and a medical-grade product line.
The salon and medical spa business, which was acquired four months ago by the Advanced Aesthetics Institute, already is reaping the benefits of its new owners, according to AAI chairman Richard Rakowski. The Manhattan salon, located at 501 Madison Avenue, has posted a $2 million increase in revenue over the previous year. Rakowski attributes this windfall to the addition of Janice Worth, executive vice president of marketing; as well as adding hair stylists and facialists with a loyal following to the staff.
According to industry sources, each Georgette Klinger unit generates between $2 million and $5 million in sales per year. Rakowski expects the renovation to double the chain’s overall sales in the next two years, and to double it again two years later.
“When you look at the client base, it is very doable. The excitement this is bringing to light, the idea and central focus of bringing the facial back to a medical procedure,” will attract many more clients, Rakowski said.
AAI, a two-year-old, privately owned company based in West Palm Beach, Fla., didn’t always have its sights set on acquiring a brand rich in cosmetics history. Funded by two partners, Kidd & Co. of Greenwich, Conn., and L Capital, a division of Paris’ LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, AAI in 2002 conducted about $3.5 million in research to understand where the beauty industry was headed.
“That led us to the strategy of offering nonmedical and medical services under one roof.”
Following the direction their research pointed to, this past February the company opened the medical and beauty clinic AAI in West Palm Beach, which offers everything from plastic surgery, cellulite treatments, cosmetic dentistry and cosmetic dermatology to makeup and hair care services.
As a result of operating the business — and women increasingly searching for skin care results — Rakowski believed the Georgette Klinger brand was ripe for the taking. Its “tremendous equity in brand heritage” was its most alluring appeal, Rakowski said.
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Rakowski knew Klinger, who died at age 88 in January, was a skin care innovator who gained acclaim for her upscale, European facial treatments more than 60 years ago. She arrived in the U.S. in 1940 from her native Czechoslovakia with aspirations of offering her skin care knowledge to Americans. In 1941, Klinger opened the first Georgette Klinger salon, on Madison Avenue, with the financial help of several friends who believed in her natural skin care approach.
Among her innovations, she was the first to formulate a skin care line specifically for men more than 30 years ago. In 1975, she built a retail store within the expanded Georgette Klinger flagship. In the Eighties, Klinger discovered the benefits of combining collagen and elastin, spurring a new approach to skin care formulation. Soon after, research, development and production facilities opened in New Jersey.
Ultimately, nine Georgette Klinger salons opened in cities across the country, including Dallas, Washington and Los Angeles.
In 1998, the company was sold for an undisclosed amount to The Pyle Group of Madison, Wis. Now, with AAI as its owner, and with more than $40 million invested into the company, the salons are primed for a revamp, starting with the Manhattan location. The four-floor, 12,000-square-foot salon includes a retail space on the first floor; a lobby entrance, check-in and facial rooms on the second floor; a cellulite clinic, spa rooms and a nail salon on the third floor and medical treatments on the fourth floor. The medical component is expected to be ready for operation in the summer.
Georgette Klinger, which admittedly attracts an old guard clientele spanning three generations, has tapped several well-known aestheticians to draw a younger crowd into its doors, too. Most recently, they’ve tapped Anushka, the queen of cellulite treatment, to open a cellulite clinic there. Beauty guru Wendy Lewis now sees her clients at the salon, too.
Treatments and products are part of the new Georgette Klinger model, too. A medical grade facial will begin testing in Florida in November, to be rolled out to salons nationally in February. A medical grade product line, to be developed by an undisclosed medical firm, is planned for next summer. In addition, a brand revitalization is in the works, including a logo change to “GK” to attract a younger clientele. The new logo will begin appearing on storefronts in February.
Rakowski stressed the salon’s services won’t reflect trends but rather technology. “We will provide credible, real results based on medical diagnostics, not on what is hip or trendy,” he said.