DOUGLAS ENTERS THE MEGA-ERA
Byline: Melissa Drier
Frankfurt — Douglas Perfumeries has given beauty retailing a new dimension with the opening here of a five-floor, 32,000-square-foot Douglas House of Beauty.
Not only is this Douglas’s largest perfumery, but the Frankfurt House of Beauty is part of the first Douglas Group lifestyle house, “Zeil in Style.”
Located at number 100 on Frankfurt’s most popular pedestrian shopping street, the Zeil, the combined enterprise incorporates the men’s wear specialist Pohland, women’s apparel retailer Appelrath-Cupper and jeweler Christ, all divisions of the Douglas Group.
Pohland, Douglas and Appelrath-Cupper each has its own entrance and own set of escalators in the glass-fronted, 130,000-square-foot emporium, but inside, there is open access to the men’s, women’s and beauty selling floors.The 950-square-foot Christ shop-in-shop is adjacent to the Douglas women’s fragrance department on the second floor, and a Kafer’s bistro will be installed on the top floor.
The result is the feeling of a department store; or rather, a new department store hybrid; with its five floors and broadly mixed assortment, the cosmetics operation is unlike anything ever seen in a traditional department store.
As Douglas Group chairman Jorn Kreke noted in an interview, “If we’d done this the department store way, we could have saved a lot of money. We wouldn’t have needed so many escalators. But we wanted each specialty store to retain its own identity and not to mix the concepts. And we feel the results outweigh the costs.”
Architecturally transparent and translucent — from inside and out — Zeil in Style went up at a cost of approximately $50 million, not including inventory and the site itself. In conjunction with the Frankfurt opening, which took place March 14, Douglas went online with Douglasbeauty.com.
A Douglas spokesman said the Zeil was “meeting plan nicely, which is a big success, since plan was set on a high level.” He added that the Frankfurt mega-perfumery would be “the actual Douglas flagship, not only in terms of space, but also sales.”
“People ask if such an investment in bricks and shop furnishings makes sense in this time of e-commerce,” Kreke remarked, “but I am convinced that when people spend hours in front of a computer everyday, they’ll also welcome a change of scene. Multichannel operations with both stationary and other forms of commerce offer the best opportunities for growth.”
Kreke said the Zeil in Style concept could be brought to other major German cities. The Frankfurt store employs 300, and Kreke set the first-year sales goal for the lifestyle house at more than $50 million. Claus Mingers, a member of the Douglas board responsible for the perfumery division, projected first-year beauty sales at about $20 million.
This biggest Douglas perfumery sets new standards for the German beauty giant, which now has 400 German doors. Another 100 German doors and 200 foreign doors will be added, once the Yaska acquisition is approved.
In the new store, open sell rules. However, a staff of 100 is available to provide service and assistance when desired.
The ground floor is entirely devoted to makeup, most of which is housed in eight-foot-long, double-sided, self-serve display units. The assortment includes popular-price brands such as Art Deco; BeYu; Art Deco’s young makeup range produced exclusively for Douglas; Isadora, a Swedish line now at Douglas exclusively; Ellen Betrix; Margaret Astor, and L’Oreal.
In the prestige sector, there’s Estee Lauder, Clinique, Christian Dior, Guerlain, Yves Saint Laurent, Jil Sander, Kanebo, Lancaster, T. Le Clerc, Chanel, Helena Rubinstein, Clarins, Lancome, Anna Sui, T., Versace, Prescriptives, Isabella Rossellini and Elizabeth Arden. Then there are the Douglas newcomers — MAC Cosmetics, Bobbie Brown and Make Up For Ever.
The brands are easy to find, and the products are all within reach, but for consumers in need of advice, there’s a large Beauty Consultation Center with extra makeup tables and stools and a makeup artist on duty.
There’s also a nail and manicure area at the consultation center. The floor is flooded with light, the displays accented with green glass and the floors a rosy beige shade of granite. Circular lines are emphasized throughout.
Women’s fragrances, merchandised by fragrance family, are housed on the second floor. “What fragrance type are you?” a poster asks, and for consumers unfamiliar with the headings Floral, Oriental and Chypre, there are posters listing the attributes of each, plus examples of classics in each category. The fragrances are presented on tables and in circular open-sell shelving units against pastel-tinted walls.
Attention is not called to prices, though there are several “nice price” oval display units featuring special offers. Also on hand: pastel patent vinyl accessories and special display areas, including the European debut of the Helmut Lang fragrance, which will be sold exclusively at Douglas in Frankfurt until the summer.
Facial care is the focus of the third floor. In addition to grouping products by brand on shelving units along the walls, Douglas has chosen to cross-merchandise, mixing popular-price and high-end ranges according to skin types. So in an area with products for women with normal skin, there are selections from Venus and Nivea adjacent to Anayake; for sensitive skin, Helena Rubinstein, Clarins, Lauder Sensitiv and Declare rub shoulders with Nivea, L’Oreal and the Douglas Beauty System.
This high-low approach carries over to hair care, present in Frankfurt in its most expansive form. Many typical “drugstore” brands such as Guhl enter the assortment alongside John Frieda, J.F. Lazartigue, Borghese, Marlies Moller, Gerhard Meier and other designer hair care lines.
Another Frankfurt departure is the inclusion of hair color from Wella, Schwarzkopf, Henna Plus and L’Oreal.
Those in search of “Wellness” must proceed to the fourth and top floors. Here are the artisanal soaps cut to measure, terry bathrobes in nine colors, Aroma Formula scented candles, room scents from Crabtree & Evelyn, a feng shui bath and body line, various Asian-style accessories, products for the sauna and even toothpaste.
Bath and body ranges, an Origins shop-in-shop and sun care are also housed on the fourth floor, with mass market and prestige brands once again side by side.
“Fragrance and Care for Him” is located downstairs, in the basement.
This man’s world offers brushes, pre-shave products, razors, facial care items, towels and bathrobes, soap and shower products, and manicure sets. Men’s fragrances are again merchandised by family: Chypre, Fougere and Oriental.
Manufacturer reaction to the new format was largely positive, though some voiced the opinion that Douglas had not gone far enough, and many questioned the new practice of cross-merchandising mass and prestige lines.
“It’s a colossal house, and we must see how this huge format is accepted,” stated Werner Harriegel, director of the German Perfumery Association. “It’s a new category, and must first be proven in practice. But Douglas is the market leader, and they have the responsibility to develop new ideas. And when Douglas does something new,” he added, “it makes it easier for others to do something special to profile themselves.”
Peter Harf, chairman and chief executive officer of Coty Inc., was in Frankfurt for the Douglas opening. “[Douglas] is trying to integrate shopping experiences, and it’s obviously incredibly impressive for the consumer, though it’s not necessarily good for our brands,” Harf pointed out. “It’s difficult [in this format] to make a strong brand presentation. But the store is exciting, it’s entertainment, and my gut feel is that it’ll be super-successful. It’s a perfumery concept in a department store environment, and color cosmetics, for one, benefit from it.”
“It’s beautiful. And above all, it’s a concept that the young customer wants,” said Heinz Baumgurtel, marketing director for YSL Germany. “We’re very happy with our presentation here.”
One industry observer described the store as “approachable. It invites you to touch and feel. It’s not museum-like, and I particularly appreciate that different merchandise is interspersed, with some textiles and gifts woven into the beauty assortment.”
Another manufacturer, however, who requested anonymity, complained, “It’s not the vision I expected. It’s not straightforward enough, not progressive enough. What’s missing, for example, is a hair salon, and product-wise, I miss international, visionary lines.”
The vote was out on the fragrance family groupings. “I don’t think the end consumer is so familiar with categories of fragrances,” said one beauty executive.
“It depends on demographics,” suggested Markus Strobel, worldwide marketing director for fine fragrances at Procter & Gamble. “Women around 40 to 50 often judge fragrance by what they like, what they know, whereas for the young, it’s more experimental and about branding. We’ve already grouped fragrances [at retail] on the basis of color, brand or the alphabet, so it’s time for experimentation. And it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.”
Rita Donnerstag, president of U.S. operations for Douglas, proudly exclaimed, “No other company is doing a price structure from $2.95 to $500.”
However, it was precisely this feature that made some manufacturers nervous. “I’m very concerned about the mix of mass and prestige products,” said one prestige rep. “In sun care, for example, you have Nivea side by side with products such as ours that cost three times as much. The consumer isn’t going to understand the difference.”
While favorably impressed on the whole, H.J. Muller, director of Lancome in Germany, also remarked, “I love Nivea, but I believe when mass brands are presented as nicely as prestige, it’s a crime.”
Douglas’s Mingers countered that cross-merchandising “strengthens the premium brands. All articles in facial and sun care are installed in complete depot groups and are then given a second placement according to the individual product groups,” he explained. “This allows the consumer to evolve from the mass to the premium brands.”