BERLIN — The Laura Mercier brand made its German debut last week at Berlin’s Galeries Lafayette.

This story first appeared in the November 18, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Levi Rollins, vice president for international sales and global retail merchandising, was on hand from the U.S. to inaugurate the 323-square-foot counter, which represents a foray into what he calls a massive but challenging market.

Germany requires a cautious approach, according to Rollins. “At this time, we want to keep it very exclusive, and very upscale. So our intention is to open six doors in the next year and a half, and then from there go on to maybe 20 doors to 25 doors over a three-year period,” he said.

The brand will remain exclusive to Galeries Lafayette in Germany for three months, and in Berlin for one year. No additional German locations have yet been confirmed, but Rollins said the expansion strategy includes upscale department stores and individual perfumeries.

Nicole Wheadon, head of the cosmetics department at Galeries Lafayette in Berlin, noted that her customers already know the brand, and will be happy to find it. Wheadon and Rollins predicted that Laura Mercier’s global top sellers — including foundation primer and tinted moisturizer — will be snapped up by label-conscious, savvy Berlin shoppers. Said Wheadon, “It keys you out as being a cosmopolitan.”

Laura Mercier is also launching in Italy, at the La Rinascente department store, and in five key perfumeries throughout the market, with 10 to 15 more stores on the way. Next up is Galeries Lafayette in Paris later this month; the brand was previously exclusive to Printemps in France. Laura Mercier’s other European markets include the U.K., Sweden, Greece and Switzerland.

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