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Special Issue
WWD Year In Fashion issue 12/15/2008

It’s not quite Tony Randall and Jack Klugman — nor Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, for that matter — but retailing this year has seen its share of odd couples.

Or, perhaps not so odd, considering the continued blurring of the mass and prestige channels of distribution, and mass retailers’ desire to be on the prestige field of play.

This story first appeared in the December 15, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

CVS, for instance, has opened a new concept called Beauty 360. The store, which is located adjacent to a CVS store on the Dupont Circle in Washington, is the first of about 500 more slated to open over the next several years, according to Larry Merlo, president of retail for the $76.33 billion chain, which has about 6,800 stores.

Inside Beauty 360, which has a white motif with brushed-steel accents, is a host of brands with more of a prestige positioning than CVS’ typical mass-market assortment. Many of these brands are staples on TV shopping networks, with Laura Geller makeup, Borba and Perlier among them.

Additional brands in the Beauty 360 assortment include Paula Dorf cosmetics, Freeze 24-7, Ahava, Fushion Beauty, Dr. Brandt, ModelCo, StriVectin, Blinc Cosmetics, Talika, Supersmile, Pop Beauty and Bloom Cosmetics, as well as several newer brands, including Canyon Ranch skin care and It Cosmetics. Fragrance walls are stocked with brands from P&G Prestige, Coty Inc. and Clarins.

The Beauty 360 units, each complete with a treatment room, also offer beauty services like manicures, express facials and makeup application.

However, while the Beauty 360 stores don’t carry oft-coveted brands like Estée Lauder, Clinique, Lancôme, Dior or Elizabeth Arden, its neighbor to the north, Shoppers Drug Mart of Canada, with its own beauty and wellness concept called Murale, does carry the aforementioned luxury beauty brands and high-end beauty lines, also including Bobbi Brown, Chanel and Nars, as well as Beauty So Clean.

The store’s fragrance section includes more than 75 men’s and women’s scents, with Prada, Donna Karan, Chloé, Cartier and Etat Libre d’Orange among them. It also features a dermatological area for skin testing and consultation, and cabins for facials and treatments, along with a pharmacist and an aesthetician.

Shoppers Drug Mart executives said they believe the potential exists for 50 Murale stores in Canada, after which an international expansion may follow. With an average transaction estimated at $65 to $85 a shopper, Schreiber said each store could generate annual sales of $4.5 million to $8.5 million.

On the purely prestige side, Space NK, the mainstay U.K. apothecary, has begun building a network of stores in the U.S. While it has a handful of stand-alone stores and plans to open a handful more next year, the retailer has partnered with Bloomingdale’s to open in-store shops at the Macy’s Inc.-owned retailer.

The $100 million, London-based chain has opened locations at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship in Manhattan and in White Plains, N.Y., and expects to open units in Boston’s Chestnut Hill; Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood; and five Southern California doors — Newport Beach’s Fashion Island; Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza; Century City; San Francisco; and The Galleria at Sherman Oaks — by yearend.

At least 10 additional doors will get the concept next year, said Howard Kreitzman, vice president of cosmetics and fragrances for Bloomingdale’s.

The Space NK boutiques at Bloomingdale’s could each do upwards of $1.5 million in their first year of operation, according to industry sources.

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