Carol Hamilton, president of Loreal's USA's Luxury division told wwd yesterday, “This decision is about our desire to focus on growing the larger brands in the Luxury Products portfolio, not because the brand isn’t vibrant and beautiful”.
“We love the brand, but it is a very small part of our portfolio,” Hamilton said of Shu Uemura.“It’s a simple decision after a very complex analysis: we have a very large portfolio, and we want to focus on growing the brands which have a larger presence in the U.S. market.” Shu Uemura is available in 18 countries; the decision does not affect any other market. The brand is said to do about 80 percent of its business in Asia.
While Hamilton declined to comment on the size of the Shu Uemura brand in the U.S., industry sources estimated that it currently generates sales of around $20 million at retail annually. In the U.S., the brand is available in just under 100 doors, including Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom. L’Oréal USA also operates four freestanding Shu Uemura boutiques; Hamilton said a final decision has not been made as to what will happen with that real estate. It could be used for additional freestanding Lancôme or Kiehl’s doors, as the company operates its own stores for both brands.
Hamilton said retailers have been informed of the Shu Uemura decision and that L’Oréal USA is working closely with those retailers to develop exit plans. “We are working with retailers on a case-by-case basis,” she said. “There is no set exit date across the board. Depending on the space, it is likely that the exit strategy will take place over the next several months.”
However dont' fret, for the future, American consumers will be able to purchase the products online at shuuemura.com, said Hamilton.
The line’s namesake, a Hollywood makeup artist, began mixing and selling his signature Cleansing Oil in 1960; it continues to be one of the brand’s best-selling stockkeeping units in Asia. Uemura died in Tokyo on Dec. 29, 2007, at the age of 79.