Not many retail managers are asked to flutter around their stores sporting marabou-trimmed wings and a magic wand. But for Rosie Blakeman, manager of the Girl Heaven shop located in Birmingham, England’s Bullring mall, it’s all in a day’s work.
Girl Heaven is the pink-and-fluffy brainchild of the U.K. branch of Claire’s Accessories. It’s chock-full of all things girly and caters to two- to nine-year-old girls in a very interactive and pampering way. One of its most unique offerings is the US$22 ‘dream’ makeover, which comes complete with manicure, hairdo, makeup application and costumed photo session. Each girl also walks away with a small piece of jewelry that’s wrapped in pink tissue paper and dusted with sparkles.
Aside from the makeovers, the most popular items in the store are bedroom accessories including picture frames, pillows, trinket boxes and mirrors. And the chain is constantly on the hunt for new SKUs to expand its décor range. Blakeman says between 10 and 20 boxes of décor stock come into her store daily to replenish shelves, and the department is remerchandised once a week.
Licensed product is also really popular with GH’s shoppers, and Barbie, Disney Princesses and Hello Kitty top the list of hot properties. These goods are cross-merchandised so that wee ones can find all things Barbie, for example, in one area. For spring, GH has just introduced handbags to its stock, and Blakeman says she can easily see licenses being applied to this new category.
In 2003, Claire’s U.K. bounced back from a US$2.2-million 2002 loss to post a pretax profit of US$2.6 million on sales of US$282 million, an increase that can be largely attributed to gains made with tween girls. With GH, the company plans to make similar inroads with younger girls. So far, Claire’s U.K. has opened 12 GH stores, with plans to roll out another 150 in the next two years.