New Woolworths ‘beauty bar’ marks a new direction for Australian supermarkets?

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th April 2013

Australia’s largest supermarket group Woolworths has launched a dedicated ‘beauty bar’ in its best-known supermarket in central Sydney. The launch of the ‘beauty bar’ at its Sydney Town Hall store signals a potentially wider new strategy for the whole supermarket group.

The in-store ‘beauty bar’ will offer free beauty treatments, including make-overs, skin consultations and mini-manicures conducted by professional beauty consultants. The treatments, which will be available daily from midday to 8pm, will change on a weekly basis.

The department will also offer a range of premium professional-quality hair and beauty brands such as Bliss, Essie and Model Co. Woolworths said this is the first time that premium beauty brands will be available in Australian supermarkets.

“This is a strategic departure from the grocery sector’s more traditional model of hair and beauty to one that respects not only Woolworths as a brand – its values, personality and proposition – but the consumer experience,” said Jaid Hulsbosch, Director of Hulsbosch Communication By Design, the company that designed the new ‘beauty bar’.

Hulsbosch Communication By Design, said their design concept includes natural materials such as wood and stone, with contemporary lighting and fixtures, in a move to create a ‘customer experience’ in a non-traditional supermarket setting.

“Customers say convenience is the most important thing when shopping for hair and beauty products, followed by range, reliability and value,” said Alex Dower, General Manager for Grocery for Woolworths. “The new beauty department is another way we are working to make our customers’ lives that little bit easier by creating a one-stop-shop for grocery shopping and all their hair and beauty needs,” he said.

Woolworths said the beauty bar will be a permanent feature at the Sydney Woolworths Town Hall store, and that the supermarket would take feedback from customers with a view to expanding the concept into other stores.

Australian Food News has previously noted that the two supermarket giants, Woolworths and Coles, appear to have had different growth strategies. Woolworths has traditionally relied on growing store numbers to increase its profits, while Coles has focused more on the growth of its sales profitability within individual stores.

According to a leading food lawyer and industry commentator, Joe Lederman of FoodLegal the development of a beauty bar ‘franchise’ is an interesting innovation.

“It reminds one of the old days, when the biggest retailers were the department stores that also offered personal services such as cosmeticians, manicurists or hairdressers. It can be a win-win situation to woo more customers and give customers additional reason to prolong their stay in proximity to the shopping shelves,” said Mr Lederman.

Mr Lederman said that offering personal services could be a value-add for the supermarket real estate. “Bearing in mind that Woolworths last year hived off a considerable part of its supermarket real estate portfolio into a separate property trust, this may be an impetus for maximising returns from the real estate of the supermarket business,” he said.

Woolworths has opened a 'beauty bar' instore