STAHL LEADS MERCHANDISING EFFORT

Byline: Matthew W. Evans

NEW YORK — Talk about getting involved.
Revlon’s new president and chief executive officer Jack Stahl took a literal approach to one of the early initiatives of his young tenure.
Sitting Indian style in a Duane Reade in Manhattan on Tuesday, Stahl placed compact powders on a brand-new Revlon cosmetics wall he helped install that morning. Joining him across the city was a small army of Revlon employees, including everyone from finance to purchasing.
“We’ve got 250 people out trying to get it done fast for Duane Reade,” Stahl said as he rolled down the sleeves of his “Revlon Takes Manhattan” crewneck. It was the first day of a 10-day merchandising blitz to reset the top performing half of Duane Reade’s 220 stores. Ronald Perelman was said to have been in stores on Wednesday.
Barbara Stoebel, Revlon’s vice president of retail merchandising systems, was working alongside Stahl at the 58th Street store, located on the ground floor of the company’s headquarters building. She said the benefits of the hands-on approach go beyond publicity.
“We want our organization at every level to learn about how we impact the consumer at point-of-purchase,” said Stoebel.
“We want people to understand that the way they work today may not be the way they work tomorrow due to customer demands.”
Tony Cuti, president and ceo of Duane Reade applauded the move. “It means a lot,” he said. “It’s a competitive game and other brands will be envious, but Revlon has been lagging in that area — it’s been a thorn in their side.” Cuti feels it’s too early to say how sales will be affected by the new merchandising but he’s confident it will be an improvement. “It’s definitely a move in the right direction and it will make a big difference.”
The sleek “Her Wall,” as the new fixture is called, tested well in 30 top-performing doors of three regional chains — Longs Drug Stores, Ulta and Meijer. “Results were strong,” Stahl noted, acknowledging that sales increased by double digits. Sales in the first year are expected to be in line with the results of the trial, which began last October.
The new wall will replace 15-year-old units during a three-year period. This year, 6,000 high-volume locations that generate over 60 percent of Revlon’s business will be refitted. Middle-volume then low-volume stores are slated for conversion in 2003 and 2004 respectively, representing Revlon’s full 30,000-door distribution network.
Stoebel acknowledged that the old sets obstructed product in some cases. Indeed, a store check at another Duane Reade location in Manhattan that had not yet been converted revealed that bottle graphics, including the SPF printed on Colorstay bottles, were obscured.
The new wall, however, brings product benefit statements and the products themselves to the forefront. Light is reflected by clear plastic that surrounds black inserts. A conspicuous “Revlon” header tops the unit, whose black slats, in some cases, offset the wall from white slat walls on either side. The wall measures anywhere from 8 linear feet in Duane Reade to 14 and 16 feet in larger retail accounts.
Following Duane Reade on the reset agenda are Rite Aid, CVS then Longs. Wal-Mart has indicated it is interested in the new wall, as has Kmart, according to Stoebel, but Target will use its own fixtures.

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