Takes Cosmetics & Fragrances Center Stage at Stage Stores
With over 30 years experience in retail, Christine Johnston’s professional journey reads very much like destiny at its best. Ms. Johnston got her start in the cosmetics buying office at Lord & Taylor and then landed at Sanger Harris, Dallas where she quickly found herself as Divisional Merchandise Manager - Missy Sportswear.
Bound for the world of beauty, Chris moved on to Foley’s, Houston where in 1988, she began running the Cosmetics Division and making great strides. In 2006, she headed north to Macy’s New York, as Senior Vice President Cosmetics and Fragrances.
In August 2009, Ms. Johnston found herself back in Texas. Her vision has helped
her bring about innovative changes in the Cosmetics & Fragrance Division, as Senior Vice President/General Merchandise Manager at Stage Stores, Inc. with corporate headquarters in Houston, Texas. Along with a fascinating, successful career, Chris boasts a loving husband and two beautiful (of course!) grown children.
Beauty Fashion asked Ms. Johnston to share her insights on her current position
at Stage Stores, Inc. and her progress to date, as well as her motivation and plans for
Beauty Fashion: How are you energizing the Cosmetics and Fragrance Division for Stage Stores?
Christine Johnston: Simply put, it’s a three-tiered plan, beginning with Newness. In cosmetics, we’re launching our lifestyle Beauty Bar concept…adding eight new brands in an assisted, open-sell venue; focusing on treatment in skincare, bath/body and hair and incorporating “green” natural and organic products; and highlighting new color products in minerals, makeup artistry and “how-to” kits.
In addition to launching several new fragrances, we will also offer more tried-and-true, core brands for both women and men. Our customers are strong followers of Prestige scents, so it goes without saying, this is our fastest growing category.
Secondly, the goal is to Maximize Value. Beauty Bar products are well-priced, and we’ve now introduced new, well-received Affordable Luxury categories in key fragrances, offering expanded price-points for our broad customer base.
Last in our plan is Stepped-Up Animation. “Big Ideas” are being made bigger through stronger visuals and, including all doors in all major promotions, offers more accessibility to more customers. We’ve added a seasonal Beauty Week Event and kicked it off with
our first-ever Beauty Book, Beautiful You…highlighting trends, newness and value and featuring exclusive visuals and exciting events. We continue to work closely with Estée Lauder and Clinique to build on the strength of existing store growth and increase our distribution in key, opportunity markets.
A spread from Stage Stores’ Spring Beauty Book
BF: What have you accomplished in your first year at Stage Stores?
CJ: Prior to my arrival, there was a strong Cosmetics Team in place, which was doing a good job of driving growth within a difficult economy. My role has been to take something really good and make it even better. The challenge has been exhilarating, to say the least. It’s been exciting to merge two divisions—Houston and South Hill, Virginia Cosmetics divisions—while maintaining growth in each, raising market visibility and driving sales.
BF: What goals lie ahead?
CJ: Stage Stores remains firm in its position, thrusting Cosmetics and Fragrances front and forward, expanding our new strategies into many more doors in the next
24 months. Bringing small town customers more of
the products they want, stocking the goods as soon as possible and giving personalized service…that is our
BF: Can you enlighten us on Stage Stores’ unique
CJ: Stage Stores, Inc. is a leading small town retailer operating under five nameplates: Bealls, Goody’s, Palais Royal, Peebles and Stage, with 774 stores—varying in size from 5,000 to 54,000 sq. ft.—in 39 states. Market population ranges from 10,000 to 4,000,000, with 65% of our stores serving market populations less than 50,000.
Our niche is delivering family apparel, accessories and cosmetics/fragrances to the underserved customer. She is very aware of the latest trends and wants the convenience of purchasing her desired products close to home.
The culture within the Stage organization embodies the essence of teamwork at its very best. The easily accessible management team allows decisions to be made quickly, and consequently, we’re a nimble, responsive group. At Stage, you really can be an entrepreneur in the true sense of the word.
Joining the Stage team has been a very interesting and rewarding venture, as it has given me the opportunity to grow…to learn a new business model, while at the same time, allowing me to share the expertise I have developed over many years of strong partnerships within the Cosmetics and Fragrance industry. BF