RED DOOR SET TO OPEN WIDE

Byline: Soren Larson

NEW YORK — They’ve polished the handle on the Red Door and put on a fresh coat of paint, and now they want to do it again.
Many times over: The Red Door salons, established by Elizabeth Arden and licensed to Elizabeth Arden Salon Holdings, are being expanded around the world. At least 50 more are expected to be opened in major cities by 2002, bringing the total to 56.
The action started here, where the original salon — which opened its Red Door in 1910 and moved to 691 Fifth Ave. in 1929 — has undergone an estimated $5 million renovation.
Arden’s retail space on the ground floor has been reworked, while the total spa has been expanded from 13,000 square feet to 20,000, allowing for more services and stations.
The salon now offers an expanded menu of treatments, including massages, waxing, nail services, hairdressing and makeovers. It also has more space for waiting areas and a cafeteria, where customers who are there for the day can take time for a “spa lunch.” There will even be a site specifically designated for men’s services, a new wrinkle in the Red Door concept.
The reconstruction, which began in January, is nearly completed, with the final touches slated to be in place by the end of the month. As part of the revamping, the salon worked a deal with its landlord to trade the 11th and 12th floors in the building for the bigger second and ninth floors, where it now plies its trade along with the ground and eighth floors. Oribe’s hair salon, which shares clients with Arden, operates on the 10th floor.
“We’ve tried to create an oasis,” said David Stoup, president and chief executive officer of Elizabeth Arden Salon Holdings. “We’ve allocated more space to beauty services, and clearly that’s a growth area.”
In addition, the ground floor — which is operated by Arden, while Salon Holdings handles the rest of the building — now houses the entire Arden line of skin care, makeup and fragrances.
The area has been opened up to accommodate an assisted self-serve arrangement and serves as the ultimate representation of the brand’s image, according to Peter England, president of Elizabeth Arden.
A huge picture of Amber Valletta — the model in all of Arden’s new advertising campaigns — looms behind a row of counters and cash registers. On the opposite wall is tall, open shelving that houses the firm’s various lines, including fragrances from designers like Lagerfeld and Cerruti.
“The salon business is very important to us,” England said, noting that Arden works closely with Salon Holdings in terms of the design and selling strategy of the salons. “This is core to our image — we’re rooted in that heritage.”
The revamped selling space on the ground floor of the flagship salon, he added, is a central part of Arden’s “re-imaging project,” in which packaging, store counters and advertising have all been overhauled.
“This is central to our re-imaging — it’s the ultimate example,” England said, though he added it will take 18 more months to “retrofit” Arden’s packaging and retail environments around the world.
“It serves to set up our image. It’s a showcase,” he continued. “What you see there is the way I’d like to see Arden everywhere.”
The new setup came at a price. “We’ve spent more than it would cost to build several houses,” England said.
He didn’t divulge specific details, but sources estimate Arden spent around $1 million to revamp the retail area alone. The investment should have a payoff, however.
“It will do more than $1 million [in sales] within a year,” said England. “But it’s not even the turnover that’s critical. This is the original home of Elizabeth Arden, and everything should be done right.”
Stoup is also expecting big dividends as a result of the overhaul on Fifth Avenue. “We’ve been experiencing phenomenal growth lately, and with this additional footage, obviously we’re expecting additional increases.”
At a typical Red Door, 40 percent of sales are generated by hair care and beauty services each, with the remainder made up of retail product sales. The redone flagship could skew more toward beauty services as a percentage of volume, Stoup noted.
He didn’t provide specific figures, but according to industry sources, the flagship salon could have retail revenues in the $15 million range next year, up from around $10 million.
The new layout was created by Clodagh, the Irish interior designer who also did the new London Red Door, which opened in May. “Clodagh is doing all of what we call the Red Door 2000 salons,” said Stoup, describing the look as an “updated classic.”
In the Fifth Avenue salon, for instance, much of the original molding and fixturing has been left in place, while modern amenities, such as waterfalls, have been installed.
Stoup noted that the bulk of the new Red Door sites will be in North America — he is currently looking in new markets like San Francisco and Dallas and in cities where a Red Door already stands, like Chicago and Washington — although more European locations are also a given.
The company also operates a department store division; around 35 salon-in-store installations are up and running in the U.S.
The overall strategy, Stoup said, is to “cluster units” in various metropolitan areas — “sometimes three or four to a marketplace.”
He added that he isn’t worried about saturating a market or entering areas where the demographics don’t fit the Red Door profile of upscale, time-conscious professionals.
“We see the demand for this type of service as being universal,” Stoup said.

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