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Kohl's investing in beauty products, seeing growth, says retailer's CEO

Beauty products will be a focus for Kohl's Corp. in 2020, the department store's top executive said Jan. 12.

The company sees an opportunity to place a greater emphasis on cosmetics in its stores in the U.S., CEO Michelle Gass told an audience at the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York. Gass did not provide specifics on Kohl's plans but did say the company would say more during an investor presentation scheduled for March.

"[Beauty is a] small business today for Kohl's. It is growing significantly. We are bringing in new brands and we're investing," she said at the NRF show. The executive said the retailer has "reengineered" the beauty section at 11 of its pilot stores and received rave reviews from customers.

Kohl's has signaled an interest in expanding the role that beauty products play in its stores in recent months. In 2019, the company added a selection of emerging beauty brands, which it will refresh quarterly, to 200 of its stores.

Kohl's has sought to develop its presence in specific product areas under Gass' leadership. Speaking at the Jan. 12 conference, she said that the company has expanded its selection of active wear in recent quarters.

Gass also told the audience that she is comfortable with Kohl's network of 1,160 stores, adding that emphasizing high-performing categories and adding new capabilities to stores, such as a program to accept returns of Inc. products, have helped the company make new use of its physical footprint. Many department stores have shuttered locations in recent years as sales growth has slowed or entered negative territory.

Comparable sales during the holiday season fell 0.2%, the retailer reported Jan. 9. Adjusted EPS for its third quarter, which the company reported in November, missed analyst expectations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.