BEAUTY CARE

Allegro celebrates 40 years

BY Antoinette Alexander

LOS ANGELES — Allegro, a division of Conair that is known for creating beauty travel and storage solutions for brands and retailers around the world, has turned 40 and is looking forward to years of continued success.

“It takes dedication and hard work to stay relevant in a dynamic trading environment,“ said PJ Brice, president of Allegro. “Understanding the ever-changing needs of an increasingly sophisticated consumer has been the key to our success.”

With a heritage deep in cosmetic bags, boasting more than 90% of the soft-sided market in the United States, Allegro has grown into a global design and product development house with expertise in a variety of beauty categories.

Allegro’s fashion trend identification and interpretation service has become a valued design resource for its retailers and design partners. This, coupled with the vertically integrated business model, enables Allegro to design, sample, produce and market commercially viable products across a variety of distribution channels, the company stated.

What’s next for Conair and Allegro? Conair will continue to support Allegro and its growth plans, while Allegro will continue to diversify its business, which includes the development of new product categories, expansion into the prestige sector and the marketing of two of its controlled brands, SOHO Beauty and Kestrel, the company stated.
 

 

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Retail traffic down 22% in week following Black Friday

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Consumers spent a majority of last week recovering from “Black Weekend” holiday shopping. ShopperTrak on Wednesday reported that for the week of Dec. 2 to Dec. 8, GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other products) brick-and-mortar retail sales decreased 2.9% compared to the same time last year. Last week’s retail shopper traffic decreased 21.6% compared to the same time period in 2012.

Shopping activity for the week ending Dec. 8 returned to expected seasonal levels following the previous week, which contained a surge of in-store activity across Thanksgiving Day and Black Weekend. “Cyber Monday” (Dec. 2) started the week with a focus on online shopping, causing many retailers to offer in-store promotions intended to entice customers to complete their holiday shopping early in December in their stores.

“Shoppers usually take a brief break in the week after Black Weekend,” Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder said. “Lighter crowds and many in-store deals, however, helped Saturday, Dec. 7 see a 1.4% sales increase compared to the same day in 2012.”

Despite the encouraging uptick in sales on Saturday, calendar changes in 2013 contributed to the past week’s overall declines in retail sales and traffic. Hanukkah began on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) – 11 days earlier than last year. So, consumers completed their pre-Hanukkah shopping in November rather than early December, as they did in 2012.

“The movement of Hanukkah into November caused some inevitable declines in sales and traffic in the first week of December,” Martin said. “However, with the shortened Christmas shopping season now in full swing, shoppers can’t procrastinate like they did last year. As we approach the holiday, we expect that shopper activity will increase each week.”

 

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Ulta Beauty delivers top line growth in Q3

BY Antoinette Alexander

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — Ulta Beauty posted strong double-digit gains during its third quarter thanks in part to strength in sales of prestige cosmetics and skin care and strong online sales.

Sales for the quarter ended Oct. 27 rose 22.4% to $618.8 million. Same-store sales rose 6.8%, including the impact of e-commerce sales.

Net income increased 19.1% to $45.4 million compared with $38.2 million. Income per diluted share rose 18.6% to 70 cents per share, including 2 cents per diluted share related to a severance charge.

During the quarter, e-commerce sales grew 74.4%, representing 170 basis points of the total company same-store sales increase.

“[The third quarter] was an excellent quarter for Ulta.com, demonstrating continued momentum on the top line despite tough prior year comparisons and a major site relaunch,” said Mary Dillon, CEO, during the company’s recent quarterly conference call with analysts. “Our limited-time Beauty Breaks!, our sample beauty bags and CRM program all contributed to better-than-expected sales growth.”

The new platform was rolled out over a period of several weeks and was revamped to enhance visibility to its product assortment, highlighting bestsellers and featuring products across all categories. Search capabilities were improved and brands were recognized for greater visibility.

Ulta noted that it is the one of the first retailers to feature Responsive Web Design, a new technology that enables a consistent browsing experience regardless of the device being used — a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Also helping to fuel sales was prestige cosmetics and skin care. Dillon noted that prestige cosmetics and skin care continue to be the strongest categories, while it experienced some softness in nail and fragrance — in line with industry-wide trends.

Dillon, who joined the company in July, said that looking ahead the company will need to find new ways to grow.

“I believe there are significant opportunities ahead for Ulta in areas such as driving higher brand awareness; developing smaller and urban store formats; increasing our digital presence, both online and in store; and growing our capabilities to enable initiatives like localization of assortment,” Dillon told analysts.

As for 2014, the company plans to embark on a number of smaller in-store projects like additional prestige boutiques and reflowing the mass cosmetics program in some of its older stores to make the shopping experience in that category more consistent across the chain.

Another area of focus: its loyalty program. Dillon said the company continues to see increases in retention in its loyalty customer base. There are currently 12.5 million active loyalty members who have shopped within the past 12 months, up 18% compared with last year.  

 

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