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MAC’s Plan of Attack for Europe

MAC Cosmetics has a clear grasp of the decade ahead.

MILAN — MAC Cosmetics has a clear grasp of the decade ahead.

It’s “expansion in general, and Europe as a big part of that,” said Karen Buglisi, MAC’s senior vice president. “Our strategy is to open freestanding stores, and we are currently looking for opportunities to open more in Europe.” MAC has 132 freestanding doors in Europe, of which three are in Italy.

Buglisi was speaking during MAC’s first press conference hosted here recently on European strategy.

The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.-owned brand also previewed its spring-summer makeup collection, inspired by the idea of urban tribes, and unveiled a 600-square-foot freestanding store on Milan’s Via Torino.

“Milan was chosen to hold MAC’s first European trends presentation as the company collaborates with 30 fashion brands during Milan Fashion Week,” said Buglisi, who added the next presentation in Europe will be in Paris this year.

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Between July and December 2009 on a like-for-like basis, MAC’s European revenues grew at a double-digit pace, according to Jean-Guillaume Trottier, MAC vice president, without breaking out figures.

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Even though the company has been expanding of late, with some store openings in French shopping malls in Paris’ Les Halles neighborhood and in Rosny-sous-Bois, Trottier said the company is still far from reaching its maximum potential.

“We believe there is a strong opportunity for growth via freestanding openings in shopping malls across the region,” he continued. “Our freestanding stores are the gold standard for us, and we will deploy them strategically all over the region in order to reach our wide range of customers and implement new business initiatives.”

Unlike in the U.S. market, where color cosmetics sales are strong, European customers favor fragrance and treatment products.

“Customization is a key component of our European approach. We will customize our color and face products to fit with consumer [tastes] by developing specific shades,” said Trottier. “We are working very closely with our global team in New York, as well as tapping into our directors of artistry [MAC’s in-house makeup artists that represent the brand internationally] in London and Paris to customize our product and collateral offerings to make them more relevant to the European consumers’ preferences. Additionally, and aligned with our brand heritage and DNA, we see great potential in targeting underserved ethnic populations, particularly in Western Europe.”

MAC has found that distributionwise, it’s done well with retailers such as Douglas Perfumeries in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, “where we have been able to expand in key locations by incorporating elements of MAC store design and have MAC artists in-store to deliver the high-touch MAC experience found in our freestanding stores,” said Trottier.