The decision follows Sears' successful repositioning last year, including focusing more on apparel and adding 26 cosmetics department prototypes to its stores.
Sears now plans a joint venture with former Lancome executive Pierre Rogers, who resigned as president of the France-based cosmetics company to oversee the new business, to be called Beauty Style Inc.
The first products, available exclusively at Sears, will roll onto the shelves of 200 stores by the fall of 1995, and will include skincare, color and fragrances, the company said. Beauty Style products will be carried in most of Sears' nearly 800 full-line department stores by 1998.
Sears Merchandise Group Chairman-CEO Arthur Martinez indicated last week, when announcing its plans, that the company's agency for apparel advertising, Young & Rubicam, New York, will likely create advertising for the new cosmetics account, estimated at $10 million to $20 million.
Y&R's latest advertising for Sears is expected to break later this month and will include the new theme line "The many sides of Sears," agency insiders said.
Analysts applauded Sears' cosmetics move, citing the company's long-term success in developing and marketing in-house brands, including products sold under the Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard banners.
"This is an important step for Sears in the direction of getting believable expertise in the field of fashion, which is an area where it wants to gain," said Sid Doolittle, president of the Chicago-based retail consultancy McMillan/Doolittle.