PARIS — Imagine a small grocery store selling — in lieu of foodstuffs — a wide variety of niche beauty products in a contemporary loftlike space.
That’s what Le Bon Marché’s new beauty area, which opened about two weeks ago on the department store’s second floor, is meant to be like. It’s the latest development in the retailer’s overall revamp and located just upstairs from where the traditional, major beauty brands continue to be carried on the ground floor, over 16,670 square feet.
“There is really an inclusion of women’s ready-to-wear and beauty for a new concept,” said Jennifer Cuvillier, director of the style office at the store, referring to the fashion hanging on racks nearby. The idea, she explained, is to introduce a lifestyle-driven shopping experience.
The new 3,333-square-foot open beauty area, with natural light, red brick walls and wooden floors, showcases 57 niche brands, of which 60 percent are exclusive to France.
The department — manned by nine beauty assistants — is generally divided into an area for face and body care, including organic labels; another related to eyes, hands and feet, with an OPI nail polish service, and one for hair care and accessories, with a styling bar.
Mixed in with comfy seats are oak merchandising units, black steel and glass counters and a white enamel sink. The space, created by Bon Marché’s in-house architects, is where people are meant to take their time and get to know the products.
“It is…for pampering oneself, but in a fashion universe,” continued Cuvillier.
The store’s staff trolled the planet for the highly edited product selection, traveling as far afield as Japan, the U.S., Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil, according to Marie-Françoise Stouls, Bon Marché’s beauty director.
Examples of exclusives to France are O&M, a professional Australian hair-care brand, and Cowshed Natural Cosmetics, a British label primarily focused on body care.
Brands in the organic face and body-care section count among them Absolution, Patyka, Kos Paris, Omoyé, Dr. Bronner’s, Tata Harper, Björk & Berries and Aromatherapy Associates.
Bon Marché opted for a large organic offering since it’s deemed an important trend and was requested by clients.
“Today green products have become hyper-efficient and really at the level of [what isn’t organic],” said Stouls.
In the hair-care zone are 28 brands, with a dozen organic. Labels here include Kevin Murphy, Less is More and Korres. Designers such as Jennifer Behr, Johanna Braitbart and Colette Malouf contributed to the selection of hair accessories.
Eye-related products come from the likes of Face Lace, Harcourt and Mily Make Up.
In the new beauty department, Bon Marché doesn’t generally sell a brand’s full range, but the product or products deemed most interesting from a line. Cherry-picked, for instance, were Didact’s Chantilly moisturizing hair mousse and RMS Beauty’s lip2cheek.
Certain one-shot brands that had been part of past store events have been brought back here, including Granado from Brazil and Makanai Cosmetics from Japan.
It is important for products to be easily accessible — on tables and shelves — and playful, said Cuvillier.
While Bon Marché would not discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate the new beauty department could boost the store’s overall beauty revenues by 10 percent to 15 percent in the first year.
The floor’s concept will evolve, including with new products and colors.
“It’s a new playground for us,” said Cuvillier.