Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — Aura Science, the skin care and color cosmetics brand launched April 12 as a joint venture between The Limited Inc. and Shiseido Co. Ltd., has performed better than executives had expected in its first few days.
Within hours of the ribbon cutting, results had already started pouring in, fueled by local TV coverage. Although the company does not break out figures, industry sources indicate that $7,800 in sales were done in the first four hours — compared with a $5,000 plan — at the Aura Science freestanding store in Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio. Openings of another nine freestanding stores are planned for the rest of this year.
The average transaction was higher — $55 versus a planned $40, slightly above the industry norm — according to sources. The average number of units purchased was also higher — 3.5 versus 3 — and the elapsed time between sampling and product purchase has been faster than expected.
“I am very pleased, Les is very pleased, Lynn is very pleased and our head of human resources is very pleased,” said Robin Burns, president and chief executive officer of The Limited’s Intimate Beauty Corp. and its Aura Science and Victoria’s Secret Beauty divisions. She was referring to Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and ceo of The Limited, and Lynn Emmolo, executive vice president and general manager of Aura Science.
The ribbon was cut by Wexner and Akira Gemma, chairman of Shiseido. In an interview on the morning of opening, Wexner noted that both companies shared a tradition of listening to the customer. Once the brand launches, he added, “it’s kind of like field testing. We’ve tailor-made a suit and we’ve been around the customer. If we’ve done it 70 to 80 percent right, it’s a good beginning.”
Gemma noted that each company had put their individual expertise on the table. But what was truly important was that they had shared their values in the process of creating new ones.”
Wexner agreed: “It began with a discussion of the ‘what,’ and then the ‘how.’ It didn’t begin with ‘what’s in it for us.”‘ He later observed: “Understanding is driven by values, not language.”

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