View Slideshow

LONDON — Selfridges & Co. is going big on beauty.

This story first appeared in the September 14, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The store’s Oxford Street flagship will unveil its latest beauty proposition on Saturday: a service-oriented space known as The Beauty Workshop, where customers will be encouraged to shop around and choose from a variety of price points and treatments ranging from tanning to blow-dries, manicures and hair weaves.

Staffers are employed by Selfridges, rather than the brands, and have been trained to work across a variety of products and services.

“If every woman emptied her makeup bag on the table, there would be a variety of products — there is no brand loyalty,” said Jayne Demuro, Selfridges’ head of beauty, during an interview at the store’s head office. “This is about giving the customer what we think they want, and it’s about offering our customers choices.”

The new space will be located off the main beauty hall, boosting the square footage of the overall space to 5,000 square feet. Demuro said, however, that the new space is by no means an expansion of the beauty hall — which carries the big makeup and skin care brands such as Chanel, YSL Beauté, Clarins and Clinique.

“The customer experience will be equal — but different. And, ideally, the customer will have a seamless experience moving from one space to the other,” Demuro said.

Selfridges is the latest British store to raise the bar on beauty retail.

This fall, Harvey Nichols will unveil its first stand-alone retail concept for beauty, with the opening of Beauty Bazaar in Liverpool. The 22,000-square-foot, three-story space at Liverpool One will offer high-end beauty, skin care and fragrance ranges, treatments, specialist services such as Botox and a Champagne and cocktail bar.

Earlier this year, Marks & Spencer began rolling out dedicated beauty spaces — with assistants trained and paid by the store rather than the brands — that carry British, international and own label products. John Lewis has recently doubled the size of its beauty hall while House of Fraser, Liberty and Harrods have all upgraded or expanded their beauty spaces over the past 18 months.

The Beauty Workshop at Selfridges will showcase 50 new brands, including Aesop, The Organic Pharmacy and Dermalogica, all of which will open flagship stores in an area known as the Skin Clinic. Other brands to be carried in the space will include Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, which are 100 percent vegan, Topshop color cosmetics and mainstream brands such as Vaseline.


RELATED STORY: MAC to Unveil New Space at Selfridges >>


The perimeter of the new space will house treatment rooms and spaces, including the first St. Tropez Skin Finishing Studio. Demuro said St. Tropez plans to offer similar skin finishing to what it uses on the fashion runways in its in-store service.

The Paint Shop by Nails Inc. will offer unbranded manicures and pedicures. Customers will be able to choose from a variety of nail brands or bring their own bottle of color to the appointment.

There also will be a Blink Brow Bar, which will have a private space for threading; a Hersheson Blow Dry Bar, offering a 15-minute blow-dry using a dry shampoo, and Weave Got Style, which creates hair extensions without bonding. All of the items in-store will be available on as of Saturday.

The space itself has been designed by the Dutch architecture firm Uxus, in what the store calls a “neutral Selfridges envelope” — a common architectural theme — in order to reflect the store’s take on beauty rather than the messages of the individual brands.

Demuro added that the space is meant to be flexible, in order to make room for special events, new brands or pop-ups. “The flexibility is there to accommodate an element of change — particularly with color cosmetics,” she said. “Currently, in the beauty hall, there is no opportunity to change” the layout or the shops themselves.

Going forward, The Beauty Workshop plans to focus increasingly on customers’ demands, and “getting what you need done” in your time frame, said Demuro.

There will be a concierge service and check-in desk aimed at helping shoppers organize their time and manage their treatment appointments. In the longer term, Selfridges plans to set up self-service kiosks where time-pressed shoppers will be able to view any treatment times that might be available at the last minute.