COSMETICS PLUS FINDS ROOM TO GROW ON LONG ISLAND

Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — Cosmetics Plus opened its 22nd store last week, and initial sales indicate it could be the biggest revenue generator in the chain.
“From what we can see, it will be our number one store,” said Robin Bartosh, chief executive officer.
Measuring 5,700 square feet, the new store, located on Long Island in Westbury, N.Y., is the largest unit in the chain. It eclipsed the second biggest, a 4,400-square-foot store at 76th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.
The new store is built inside a new two-million-square-foot mall, called The Source at Westbury.
The mall and Cosmetics Plus both opened Friday. The traffic was dense, and the opening volume of Cosmetics Plus blew off the scale. Without divulging dollar figures, Bartosh said that over the weekend, sales were running 70 percent ahead of plan.
According to sources, the original plan envisioned a first-year retail volume of $5.5 million, rising to $7 million annually after three years.
After seeing the first few days’ sales, Bartosh said, he intends to enter into talks with the developer, Simon DeBartelo, about participating in other malls that might be built across the country.
The Source is purely a specialty store mall. Anchored by Fortunoff and ABC Carpet, it is devoid of department stores, making Bartosh’s unit the only cosmetics and fragrance retailer in the mall.
Bartosh described the demographics in the mall as ideal, consisting of some of the savviest consumers in the land. “What we have here are customers who would rather be satisfied than directed,” he said. “These are professional shoppers.”
The greater size of the Westbury store allows for extra touches not found in the other, smaller units. For instance, the new store is dotted with display tables.
“We’ve always had these beautiful things,” Bartosh said, “and we’ve never been able to display them.”
The store also boasts the longest fragrance wall in the chain, approaching 80 feet.
That paid off during the first weekend. In dollar terms, fragrance accounted for 44 percent of sales, with color cosmetics and treatment 31 percent, according to Bartosh. He added, however, that in terms of stockkeeping units, color led the way.
The average sales ratio in the rest of the chain is 35 percent fragrance, 35 percent color and treatment and the rest professional and personal care products.
Bartosh, who worked behind the counter Saturday night, said one woman bought three bottles of fragrance at $80 each. Also seven refills of Guerlain’s Shalimar — 95-ml. sprays priced $68 each — were sold to different customers Saturday night. “That’s probably more than some people sell in a year,” he said.
Also among the hot sellers were the new lines added to the Cosmetics Plus lineup for this store. These included Molton Brown, Boaz, a makeup artist line, and Anthony Braden, a Canadian makeup artist brand that is popular in Japan and the Pacific Rim.
Other than the new lines, the Westbury merchandising mix is roughly the same as in the rest of the stores. The operating policies are also the same and so is the discount policy.
One other difference is the management of the 700-square-foot hair salon. It is run by DiFranco Spagnolo, a Great Neck salon that also took over the space in the Cosmetics Plus store on Fifth Avenue at 16th Street after Jacques Dessange left.
The opening of the Westbury store represents a return to Long Island for Cosmetics Plus. The company had a unit in Manhasset for three years until the mall went under six years ago, Bartosh noted.
Now Bartosh is glad to be back. “We’d like one more on Long Island,” he said.
The Long Island opening came amid a string of similar events unfolding on both coasts. Bartosh and his partner, Goldman Sachs, opened two stores in California this year and plan to open two more in October.
The four West Coast units, all located in different types of environments, will serve as test cases for further expansion. “It’s going to teach us a little bit about California,” he said.
Bartosh noted that plans call for opening 35 stores in California and its environs, while adding 10 more stores to the New York group and bringing that region also up to 35.
There is another New York store in the works at a location in LaGuardia Airport. The chain will extend to 25 stores by yearend.
The ultimate objective, Bartosh said, is to open 200 stores within five years, making Cosmetics Plus a national chain.
Bartosh explained that the company leaped across the country in its first expansion outside of New York as a way of setting up bookend parameters. “The East and West Coasts can handle about 60 percent of the business,” he said.
The object now is to start filling in the territory between the coasts.
Bartosh said leases are now under consideration for two possible stores in Las Vegas.
As previously reported, another possibility is a public offering, perhaps within a year,” depending on the market,” Bartosh added.

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