Caroline Neville MBE, President of Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW), speaks with Annalise Fard, Beauty Director at Harrods, about the heritage department store’s debut of its new Beauty Hall.
Can you tell us about your experience in beauty and what you’ve witnessed as the most significant changes in the industry?
I’m extremely lucky to have worked for two iconic brands in the beauty industry, from two very different angles. I started my career as a young Beauty Buyer at Harrods, where I remained for five years before leaving to work for Marcia Kilgore and her excitingly innovative brand, Bliss.
Bliss was changing the beauty product and treatment landscape at the time, and it was both daunting and exhilarating to leave a huge corporate machine and land in this self-motivating, start-up environment where you could make anything possible. Afterwards, I returned to Harrods as the Head of Beauty.
I have learnt that there has been more change in the world of beauty in the last five years than the previous 50. We are entering an era of true self-expression, empowerment and celebration of identity and I have a vision for Harrods Beauty to deliver that to every one of our clients.
Thanks to a new breed of beauty expert, dynamic creative platforms and ‘producers of influence’, it is possible to have instant access to professional insight, know-how and an extraordinary array of products and services to transform how we look and feel.
From digital tutorials to personalisation, to K-Beauty; the ability to customise, create uniqueness and express our individuality through beauty today is extraordinary.
The Beauty Hall is one of the largest beauty retail offerings in the world – what was the motivation behind creating such an expansive space?
The beauty industry is constantly evolving and we always want to offer a sense of celebration of what makeup, skincare or a fragrance can do — transform your mood, your confidence and, ultimately, your outlook on life. We understand the importance of investing in bricks and mortar and with beauty a significantly growing area of our business, we were poised to take this to the next level to provide an unparalleled experience and service for our customers.
Are you able to share any challenges that you experienced while developing The Beauty Hall?
This was one of the most ambitious projects in the store’s history. Our building is National Heritage listed and, as such, we are unable to create walls. We came up with an innovative design feature to overcome this – champagne-metal and glass dividers, which provide an immersive experience. Each area is unique to our brands but maintains synergy in the space. In total, 4,776 hours were invested in the renovations, resulting in 31 new boutiques.
How do you select the brands that have a presence in The Beauty Hall and how did the exclusive product collaborations with Harrods come about?
I’m extremely lucky to have travelled the world with our talented beauty team. I’ve witnessed the explosion in Asian creativity, sourced niche brands from unexpected places and personally listened to the powerful new voices influencing global trends – all of which are impacting beauty both as a concept and an industry. One of the fabulous brands we were quite excited to introduce in the new space is Fueguia 1833 – discovered by our Managing Director, Michael Ward, more than two years ago. On first ‘smell’, I signed an exclusive agreement with them to launch two years later in the new Beauty Hall – a first for Harrods.
You’ve implemented some exciting activations in the space. How did this come about and why was it an important component?
The Magic Mirrors are an exciting part of our beauty playground. Through the use of AI technology, the Magic Mirrors digitally map facial features to generate a live rendering. Customers can apply products without ever needing to physically test it. Luxury brands and retailers need to engage with their audience at every touchpoint and create a store experience that leverages technology but is also adventurous and playful.
Can you tell us a bit more about the next steps for Harrods’ beauty offering?
We want to continue to create the wow factor for our customers and that’s really at the heart of what we do. The vision is to create an environment that’s unmistakably Harrods, allowing a fully immersive brand experience – a one-stop-shop for all beauty needs. The Beauty Hall will be complemented by two further stages focusing on skincare as well as a unique Masterclass space. Ultimately, we want to see our customers enjoy beauty at Harrods for many years to come.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
My previous boss at Harrods, Marigay McKee, taught me that presence and charisma can take you a long way, but knowledge, expertise and passion are everything.
Are there any beauty trends that you predict for the year ahead?
Consumers are now far more interested in how the products they purchase are made, right down to the ingredients used. In particular, with skincare, we will see a rise in natural skincare with a focus on organic and sustainable ingredients as their main selling point.
Which three items/products do you always keep with you?
As we are talking beauty, I always have a concealer, lip balm and mascara!
How do you start your day?
A cup of hot water and lemon and a cuddle in bed with my dog, Poppy.
What was the last book you read?
Becoming by Michelle Obama.
What do you do in your downtime?
I love nothing more than to rise early on a weekend and take a long walk with my husband and dog – it’s the perfect way to unwind, catch up and put the world to right!