Cos Bar, one of the first specialty cosmetics retailers, is hitting 40 years in business with a growth spurt.
The 14-store chain — with doors in cities such as Aspen and Vail, Colo., Carmel, Calif., Scottsdale, Ariz., and New York — has ambitious plans to open 35 more stores in key markets over the next four to five years, according to Cos Bar founder and chief merchandising officer Lily Garfield.
Garfield maintained she was “comfortable as a family-owned business,” but to take the company to the next level — and to further “differentiate Cos Bar from the Sephora’s and the Ulta’s” — she would need a strategic partner.
“We’re not prestige, we’re luxury. This is a market I feel we can tap into, and I can’t do it alone,” Garfield told WWD of Cos Bar’s retail expansion.
This has been made possible by the involvement of private equity firm Tengram Capital Partners, which took a majority stake in Cos Bar in December of last year. David Olsen, who spent four years at Net-a-porter Group as senior vice president, was named chief executive officer of Cos Bar in February.
Already, there are plans in the next few months to open stores in Brentwood, Calif., and Lexington, Ky. A 1,300-square-foot door in New York’s Brookfield Place bowed in spring 2014, the last store Garfield opened before Tengram came on board.
Industry sources put Cos Bar’s business at around $25 million, and Olsen said plans are to quadruple sales over the next several years. In addition to physical retail, growing the brand’s e-commerce destination at cosbar.com is a focus. Also in the pipeline is the introduction of same-day delivery and a loyalty rewards program, B. Cos.
“We’ve barely scratched the surface with digital,” Olsen said, adding that a new web site will launch next month. (He predicts 120 percent year-over-year e-commerce growth.) Additionally, a second corporate headquarters in Los Angeles (the first is in Aspen) will be up and running later this month that will house marketing, finance, human resources and technology departments.
Garfield and Olsen have compiled a list of about 50 locations where they want to open the next Cos Bar locations, and hope to open 10 to 12 doors next year. Potential locations include another store in the New Jersey area, Manhattan and Texas.
Among the brands carried in Cos Bar are La Mer, Tom Ford, La Prairie, Chanel, Sisley-Paris, Dior, Clé de Peau, Oribe, Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, Giorgio Armani, Tata Harper, YSL Beaute and Creed. Select locations offer spa services from facials to eyelash extensions.
“Forty years ago, all you had were department stores or drug stores; you had certain brands in drug stores and luxe brands at department stores,” said Garfield, who opened the first store in Aspen, Colo., in 1976 with a range from Lancôme. “[And] who had the number-one location in department stores? It was always cosmetics. You had shoe stores, jewelry stores — why couldn’t you have a cosmetics shop?”
This thinking is what precipitated the opening of her first shop, as did the harsh climate conditions in the Rockies and living 200 miles from Denver, where the nearest department stores were located at the time.
The original store, she noted, sees close to double-digit growth every single year.