Merle Norman Cosmetics has built a foundation by offering samples to customers through its "try before you buy" concept. Founded by a young woman named Merle Nethercutt Norman, the company opened its first shop in Santa Monica, California, in 1931. It makes and markets primarily skin care products and color cosmetics that are sold through some 2,000 independently owned and operated retail outlets operating under the Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios name. Reaching from the US to Canada, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates, its studios are typically located in malls. Brand names include Automatic Definitive, Inspirations, Luxiva, and Only Natural, among others.
While the beauty company's operations are US-centric, the company extends the reach of its business throughout the nation to Canada and Mexico and overseas to the United Arab Emirates.
To control formulation and maintain quality standards, Merle Norman researches, develops, manufactures, and packages its line of cosmetics and fragrances in the US. Research and development activities take place specifically at its headquarters in Los Angeles. Merle Norman operates warehouse facilities in both Los Angeles and Memphis.
The beauty company aims to ultimately boast a network of some 2,500 studios. The company was able to expand in recent years by opening about 125 stores a year. During the economic downturn, however, the company's expansion plans slowed. In an effort to boost its number of studios, Merle Norman is looking to develop new franchise locations in key markets, such as Colorado, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, Florida, Hawaii, and Washington, DC, among other US states.
Merle Norman is also shifting its focus to growth outside North America. It has looked to luxury markets, such as the United Arab Emirates, to extend its reach and cater to its typical upscale client. To this end, the cosmetics company opened a studio in Dubai -- representing its first overseas market -- as well as nearby Sharjah Mega Mall, Mirdiff City Centre, and a studio in the United Arab Emirates.
The company is still family owned, today by chairman Jack Nethercutt II, founder Merle Norman's great-nephew. – less