Joe Magnacca knows beauty.
He witnessed the people-pulling power of beauty in Canada as executive vice president at Shoppers Drug Mart, where he served from 2001 to 2008. And upon his arrival to New York’s Duane Reade in 2008, he began importing the Canadian chain’s beauty-retailing concepts that ultimately morphed into Look Boutique, which remains, according to retail experts, the most upscale mass market beauty concept in the business.
Look Boutique—and other much-needed improvements at Duane Reade—attracted the attention of Walgreen Co., which purchased the retailer in 2010.
Since then, Walgreens has adopted the Look Boutique beauty concept and installed it into 42 stores with plans for “hundreds” more.
Magnacca recently attended the ribbon cutting for Walgreens’ newest flagship, an 8,000-sq.-ft. store in Los Angeles, located at the former home of Schwab’s Pharmacy, where incidentally, Lana Turner was discovered.
The store unfurls Walgreens’ first Boots No7 department, located at the entrance of Look Boutique and highlighted by new upscale fixturing, an adaptation of the same componentry from Boots’ headquarters in the United Kingdom. Walgreens is expected to add more Boots product into stores in 2013, a direct result of the partnership Walgreens struck with Alliance Boots in 2012.
Beauty isn’t the only department given star-studded attention in Walgreen flagship concepts. The L.A. store has fresh sushi and sashimi, an Upmarket Café offering a barista preparing fresh brewed premium coffee, espressos, a juice and smoothie bar, self-service frozen yogurt and a wine selection with more than 700 choices.
Joe, never one to shy away from any question about the beauty category, commented on his vision for future Walgreens and Boots synergistic opportunities.
“We thought the timing and location of this store [the Los Angeles Flagship] was right for the debut of Boots in Walgreens. It’s the rollout of new fixturing—gorgeous black fixturing—and packaging for the line, which I am very familiar with from Canada. It’s just spectacular. We have a fixture that sits center stage as you walk into beauty and we have our beauty advisors provide education about the line. Our beauty advisors were trained by us and by a UK training team.”
From here, Joe said, it will be important to pause, measure performance and determine how to roll out No7 and other Boots products. Target, Ulta and beauty.com, he said, have deals to sell Boots No7 and those deals were recently renewed. “We’re comfortable [with these contracts] and one of our goals is to establish great brand equity for No7.”
Joe is always excited to mention the brands Look Boutique is attracting to make the concept work.
“We have some new brands like Cargo, Balm, DDF [not in new LA site], StriVectin and our exclusive Gosh cosmetics. We have great Eyebrow bars. Categories like prestige skin care—Vichy, La Roche-Posay—benefit from our beauty advisors. We think the combination of our Look Boutiques and beauty.com is making more brands a believer in our environment. We are ready when they [prestige brands] are and we generate incremental business, not cannibalize. We believe that the beauty consumer wants to buy at the right time at a convenient place and they are thrilled with finding more locations.”