KIEHL’S EYES TWO NEW STORES
Byline: Pete Born
NEW YORK — Kiehl’s Since 1851 is continuing its expansion drive with plans for opening two new stores by the end of summer.
After being acquired in 2000 by L’Oreal USA, reportedly for an estimated $180 million, Kiehl’s opened its first store beyond the New York flagship last June in San Francisco. That opening rode a blistering 20 percent growth rate for 2000 and 2001, pushing total annual volume to between $55 million and $60 million for this year, according to industry estimates. Moreover, executives expect to keep up the 20 percent pace, with plans to open two or three stores a year for at least five years. and an update of the 13th Street flagship in New York is being planned for next year.
Now, plans call for opening stores in Boston in June and Los Angeles in August. The L.A. store is a logical extension of the San Francisco experience. Michelle Taylor, president of Kiehl’s, pointed out that the brand has a strong following in Southern California. It is a reflection of the indie cult status, particularly in Hollywood, that was nurtured under former president Jami Morse Heidegger.
In addition, Kiehl’s will open its second point of sale in Paris in mid-April with a 350-square-foot shop on the ground floor of the Bon Marche department store.
The new California store will be located in a one-story building at 1516 Montana Ave. in West Los Angeles, roughly seven miles from Beverly Hills and all of its high-powered retail competitors. Montana Avenue, by contrast, offers a lot of community character, sporting a number of local design boutiques and an absence of national names. The neighborhood is in the northwest corner of Santa Monica in a different locale from Fred Segal.
“Montana Avenue is a walking street,” Taylor noted, adding that Heidegger and her husband Klaus were involved in picking the location.
The L.A. store will have a lofty 15-foot ceiling and a similar amount of selling space as the San Francisco unit, which has 1,560 square feet for merchandising. The Northern California store also has 700 square feet in the basement, which is being used for offices and stock storage.
In Los Angeles, the new store will feature 1,550 square feet of selling space in a total area of 2,300 square feet. The extra space will be earmarked for stock rooms and offices. The storage space is needed in these stores since they’re located so far from Kiehl’s East Coast manufacturing and warehousing.
The new stores have been designed by Chris Harrelson, the same architect that planned the San Francisco store. The Boston store, located at 112 Newbury St., is smaller, measuring 1,050 square feet of selling space. But Taylor pointed that it’s spacious compared to Kiehl’s recently opened shop-within-a-shop in Saks Fifth Avenue in Chicago. That location only has 350 square feet.
The Newbury Street facility will be housed in an old building that has been owned by one family for three generations and Taylor is keen on commemorating that fact. Like Los Angeles, Boston is Kiehl’s country, thanks to the large student population drawn by a half dozen universities.
In Kiehl’s fashion, these stores will be opened with a touch of heritage borrowed from the company’s fabled motorcycle collection,possibly with a Steve McQueen or a Los Angeles Police Department bike for the L.A. event.