By David Moin
Compared to competitors, Kohl’s Corp. is said to have an underdeveloped beauty business. Yet with the recent appointment of Bob Jezowski as vice president and divisional merchandise manager of beauty, the moderate department store seeks to sustain image improvement brought about by offering upgrades to the category over the last few years.
Jezowski, formerly at Belk Inc. as vice president of beauty and fragrance and a longtime department store executive, succeeded Jeff Askenas about a month ago. Earlier in his career, Jezowski was an executive vice president and general merchandise manager at Macy’s, on the women’s apparel side.
“Kohl’s has placed strong emphasis on driving beauty since 2013, adding top national brands including Lorac, Cargo, Bliss, The Balm, Pür Minerals and H2O Plus, among others,” a spokeswoman told WWD.
“In 2016, Kohl’s completed a refresh of beauty departments and added professionally trained beauty advisers in all stores. Kohl’s has seen positive results with these enhancements and will continue to focus on broadening the beauty assortment, including color cosmetics, fragrance brands and more, to deliver unexpected product and remain competitive.”
Kohl’s has also been stepping up its training of beauty consultants and adding square footage for the beauty category.
“As a penetration of business they have huge sales opportunity,” a retail source said. “Sephora and the growth of Ulta are big threats. Belk was hyperfocused on market share, and not just with the big three, and was well aware of the growth of Sephora in malls and at J.C. Penney, and Ulta.”
Another source said that at Belk, Jezowski was instrumental in launching and nurturing indie brands such as Urban Decay, and that he expanded MAC, Benefit, Kiehl’s, NYX, Laura Geller, Benefit and Winky Lux. Belk was also aggressive about pushing digital growth. “That was a big part of the strategy,” the source said. Belk’s annual beauty summits in Charlotte, N.C., where the company is based, have been “big deals,” the source said. Jezowski worked at Belk for about five years.
“It would seem taking the job at Kohl’s would be a step up in scale for Bob,” said another source, noting that Kohl’s, a national chain, generates about four times the revenue of Belk, a regional retailer.
As previously reported, YBF (which stands for Your Best Friend) Beauty is entering Kohl’s in April, expanding the brand’s distribution around the world beyond home shopping channels. MyChelle, which makes prestige-priced natural skin care and color cosmetics, entered Kohl’s last fall. Kohl’s has also been putting greater emphasis on the active and wellness categories. Years ago, the beauty area at Kohl’s was dominated by three exclusive brands created by Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., but the partnership eventually ended.