Positioned as a luxury beauty destination, ARC opened its doors in Sandton City on 23 June, housing over 85 skincare, make-up and designer fragrance brands.
Included in the line-up are three professional brands – Dermalogica, Elemis and OPI – all owned by CAVI Brands, which, along with African Sales Company (ASCO), is a major shareholder in this fully South-African-owned business.
At the launch, ARC CEO, Jamie Lane, explained that he is in negotiations with other brands to expand the line-up and that five more ARC stores are in the pipeline. Brands exclusive to ARC are Huda Beauty, Wishful Skincare and Kayali.
When asked about the name of the store, Lane replied. “In storytelling terms, the arc refers to the journey of the main character. The premise of the ARC brand is that the customer is on a journey to discover the brands within the store. Each of our brands has a different story to tell.”
He revealed that the ARC project had only been a year in the planning. As to why the investors chose to open such an expansive (i.e. 500 square metres), high-end store in a pandemic-riddled economy, Lane said: “We opened now as we thought there was something missing in the beauty market. Plus, when is the right time to start anything? At some point you have to press ‘play’.
“ARC aims to responsibly deliver the beauty of tomorrow, today. The word ‘responsibly’ implies purpose and consciousness. The conscious beauty movement is now more relevant to everyone’s decision making process because people want to know if brands are cruelty-free, vegan, etc. So our responsibility as ARC is to let the customer discover the story of each brand they are interested in. Our service model is based on how to support every one of our brands.”
Sales staff are referred to as ‘architects’ and many of them are make-up artists and skincare therapists who lost their jobs because of COVID. The architects do not specialise in any of the brands, rather they are armed with tablets loaded with information about each brand.
In addition, counter display material includes QR codes, so that customers can access these on their mobile phones.
Lane noted that the ARC experience is designed to be a friendly and relaxed experience for the customer. He continued: “When you enter the store, you choose either a grey shopping bag, which signals that you want assistance from the architects, or a black one, meaning you don’t. We have created lots of space where customers can test products safely in terms of COVID regulations.
“The store includes a selfie station and another area dedicated to Instagram moments. There are different ‘dwell areas’ for customers. In future, we will conduct webinars from the part of the store that we call The Lab.”
ARC’s skincare section is called The Sanctuary. Some local brands, like Smooch, Skoon. and Skin Creamery, are represented here.
There is also a partially closed off area called The Pod, where skin analysis is done and where customers can experience treatments.
Lane made the point that while there is only a small section in The Sanctuary allocated to men’s skincare, Dermalogica caters to this demographic with its own dedicated range. (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)