Kiehl’s Opens First Store in Germany
HAMBURG — Kiehl’s Since 1851 boosted its German presence with the recent opening of its first freestanding store in Germany here, a step toward further internationalization of the L’Oréal-owned brand.
The 700-square-foot shop is located on Hamburg’s well-trafficked Mönckebergstrasse shopping boulevard in the city’s exclusive Levantehaus area. It is Kiehl’s 30th company-owned store worldwide, the New York apothecary brand’s 13th outside the U.S. and the third in Europe. As far as Germany goes, Kiehl’s first stand-alone store here most certainly won’t be its last.
“We like to think of Hamburg as the beginning of a big adventure,” said Kiehl’s president Philip Clough. “One of the difficult decisions we had to make in Germany was which city to open in first. There are plenty of other places [in Germany] people would like to see Kiehl’s.”
Prior to being acquired by L’Oréal in July 2000, Kiehl’s was available in three or four German doors. “We kept one account, [Munich’s] Ludwig Beck and rejuvenated it in 2001,” Clough noted. Now, there also are Kiehl’s corners and in-store boutiques at Quartier 206 department store in Berlin, Apropos Cöln in Cologne, Breuninger in Stuttgart, Parfümerie Schnitzler in Dusseldorf and — as of mid-October — Badezimmer Beautystore in Frankfurt.
Clough said with the new Hamburg store, the company is “hoping to cross the million euro mark [or $1.2 million at current exchange, in Germany]. That’s the objective.”
Clough wouldn’t reveal the overall size of the company, but industry sources place Kiehl’s global business between $50 million and $100 million at retail. He said international sales account for about 25 percent of the total business.
“It’s logical that the business be 50/50 at some point, but we can’t put a time frame on it,” he continued. “It’s an organic process, and we’re happy to continue to grow the business in the U.S. and internationally, however it nets out.”
Internationally, Asia is a key market and one in which the brand has achieved success quickly, he said. In Europe, the U.K. has been particularly strong. Kiehl’s opened a store in Paris’ Marais last year, and it is testing the waters there, while Milan and Spain were named as “logical sites” for new Kiehl’s business, including stand-alone stores. But Germany, Clough emphasized, “has the biggest [European] potential of all. There’s so much about Kiehl’s that corresponds to the German mentality.”
He said he was fascinated watching German shoppers the first day in the Hamburg store. “When they came in, they stood and read. They had a high level of interest in the story. Germans take things seriously, and there’s a lot of content. The clarity of Kiehl’s, its simplicity, efficacy, the functional nature of the brand and its no-nonsense appeal all draw a positive response,” he said. “People in Germany don’t buy Kiehl’s because it’s fashionable.”
Rolf Sigmund, managing director of L’Oréal Luxury Products in Germany, agreed. “Germans like products that make sense. They respond well to different products for different needs, as well as natural ingredients and Kiehl’s pharmaceutical background. There is a strong history of the apothecary here.”
The store is outfitted in the traditional Kiehl’s manner, with apothecary shelves, warm wooden floors, a pressed tin ceiling, a large crystal chandelier, a baby wall, photos of the founders and the Kiehl’s-sponsored Mount Everest and Greenland expeditions. The requisite motorcycle is a stunning red Indian Scout from 1928.
As many Germans assume Kiehl’s is a German name, there’s also an attempt to trace the name, which probably originated in Bavaria. But it could also be linked to the city of Kiel, or the words kiel or kil, which in Hamburg dialect, are the names for a bay or even an idiot. Customers named Kiehl are requested to contact the company with their family history.
Reflecting the company’s commitment to charity, 100 percent of the store’s first-day sales, on Sept. 19, were donated to a local project of the German AIDS foundation. And, in company with the rest of Kiehl’s stores worldwide, sales proceeds from the brand’s Grape Liquid Body Cleanser, which will be launched worldwide this month, will be donated to local AIDS charities.
— Melissa Drier
Benefit Opening London Boutiques
LONDON — Benefit has brought its lighthearted beauty brand to London.
The LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned cosmetics company opened its first freestanding store here in the Westbourne Grove neighborhood, a stone’s throw from Portobello Road, last month. The 1,100-square-foot store features a treatment room for waxing, as well as a brow bar.
A second London opening is planned for the Spitalfields neighborhood in East London shortly. The brand opened its first U.K. boutique in St. Albans last year.
“[The boutiques are like] girly sweetshops for grown-ups,” said Ian Marshall, managing director of Benefit Cosmetics U.K., adding the brand looks for locations with a village atmosphere. Marshall is eyeing other locales for Benefit boutiques, with the ultimate aim of opening three doors per year over the next few years.
— Brid Costello