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Assia Benmedjdoub discovers the power of product diversification at Sportsgirl.

It was 15 years ago that Sportsgirl launched Body Glow, a wash-off bronzer infused with a light tropical scent.

The product has gone on to sell 1.5 million units and spawned product extensions across eye shadows, glitter eyeliners and nail polishes.

Sportsgirl accessories buying manager Bianca Burd confirms lipsticks were the next major category launch, with four shades in 10,000 units.

"We're almost two million units later," she says of the decade long success story.

Today, Sportsgirl Beauty is the fastest growing product category at the fast fashion chain.

In October, Sportsgirl rebranded the venture and announced plans to extend its digital and retail reach.

Sportsgirl CEO Colleen Callander says this growth is in line with the broader beauty industry.

"Beauty is our largest category in our accessories business, seeing double digit growth season on season over the past five years. Our focus is to continue to grow the category with a focus on speed to market and the continued development of new product for our girl."

While Sportsgirl releases an average of 50 products per month, there are major changes afoot at the front-end.
Callander says there are plans to roll out stand-alone Sportsgirl 'accessories and beauty' stores and concessions in 2018.

"The beauty business started out on a small table with predominately an offering of lipsticks and nail polishes all about colour.

"With its continued growth, it is now a business that can stand alone and have its own destination in store.

“This month we launch the first of our new concept stores, which I know will be the first of many.”

The retail expansion includes the launch of a 'Beauty Bar' activation, offering customers makeovers for $20. The fee is fully redeemable on Sportsgirl Beauty products.

In the last two and a half years, Sportsgirl has grown its product range to include foundation, concealer and contouring products. Illuminators, highlighters and primers have also followed, with a CC cream in four shades and a new mascara coming soon.

Callander says traditional fittings have also been adapted to meet this demand.

"We have now have two iterations of our beauty table and in many stores, where the range has outgrown this fixed space, it's presented as a mini department along with slat stands and cubes.

"The products adhere to all local regulations. Only Sportsgirls are tested, absolutely no animal testing."

The beauty Sportsgirls are a tight team; comprising of Burd, beauty buyer Kate Symons and assistant beauty buyer Brittany Gestier. Every product they source has its own lead time with some taking six months and others take just four weeks.

"The very small team means we are incredibly flexible," Burd explains. "Decisions are made one after the other, very quickly. The initial concepts for each month are developed in advance in line with variable lead times.

"As time progresses orders are placed, with some being fast tracked depending on trend and market conditions.

"Finally, as the delivery for each range nears we liaise with visual merchandising to discuss in store presentation.
"Along the way buying and marketing work incredibly close to ensure product launches are coordinated and promoted."

These departments have also changed their approach as part of the strategic overhaul. A 'Beauty Hub' micro site has been added to Sportsgirl’s eCommerce platform, offering tutorials, tips and product information.

A new Instagram account @Sportsgirlbeauty aims to drive further traffic to the site.

"We have definitely seen online sales increase since the launch of the Beauty Hub and I feel this is because she already loves and trusts the product," Callander says.

"My vision was always to move from a beauty table to a serious beauty business. Serious in the sense of product offering, quality and credibility but still embodying the Sportsgirl signature of 'fashion and fun'.

"We have achieved this goal and built the beauty business into a department within its own right."

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