Virgin Vie sheds staff in refocus

Cosmetics retailer Virgin Vie has made redundancies in its retail and marketing departments as it refocuses resources on its direct business.

Cosmetics retailer Virgin Vie has made redundancies in its retail

and marketing departments as it refocuses resources on its direct

business.



The retailer has admitted that the Virgin name has not been as much of

an incentive as it first thought.



Keith Jones, retail director, left the company last week along with the

head of retail, Carol Bolton, plus the technical manager and two product

managers. Sales and marketing manager Ros Simmons is unaffected by the

changes. Jones’ is the only position being replaced.



’We have 2000 consultants visiting customers homes and want to put more

strength behind that. However, we are not swapping lanes, just

refocusing,’ said Virgin Vie managing director, Mark Warom. He added

that the current six stores are being redesigned to make them less

clinical.



The chain, owned by Victory Corporation, which is itself part-owned by

the Virgin Group, has been underperforming since its launch last

year.



Victory reported a pounds 10m loss in August and stated that it will not

break even until 2001 - 12 months later than envisaged.



Expansion plans have also been slowed down, with only four more stores

launching this year. The company intended to open 14 in 1998 to add to

its current six, as part of its aim to have 100 stores in five

years.



But the firm is backing its four new stores in Ireland, Norwich and

Bristol with a press and poster campaign, starting in two weeks.



’When we launched we were advised that we didn’t need to advertise

because we could trade on the strength of the Virgin name. While this

may have generated awareness, it wasn’t sufficient to differentiate the

brand. To have a greater voice in the market we need to pull together

the full marketing mix,’ said Simmons.



Last year’s London launches were backed by a two-week cinema ad by Quiet

Storm.



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