Retailer Bath & Body Works made its highly anticipated debut in Puerto Rico Monday — more than two decades after first setting up shop in Ohio — with the opening of a 4,700 square-foot store in the Plaza Las Américas mega-mall in Hato Rey.
The location features the latest store design concept, complete with lighted shelves and stands lined with the company’s full variety of signature fragrances for women and men, hand soaps and sanitizers, and home fragrances, said Jaime Arias, general manager of the new store.
The same design will be repeated in the Plaza del Sol and Plaza Carolina stores, which will open Nov. 11 and Nov. 18, respectively. The retailer has recruited a total of 300 full- and part-time employees for the three stores.
“This company is making a multi-million investment in this market, as evidenced by the opening of three stores in a row,” Arias said. “There is high expectation for the Puerto Rico market, because there are many customers who already know about the products but lacked access to them, except for when they went to the states or bought online.”Jaime Arias, general manager of the Plaza store.
“Here, customers will be able to test all of the fragrances and experience the entire variety of products,” he said, adding that Puerto Rican customers have already shown a preference for one of the retailer’s signature fragrances, Japanese Cherry Blossom.
Arias said based on customer anticipation, Puerto Rico could become Bath and Body Works’ highest-selling district, in about a year.
“Puerto Rico is a very important market for us, as it represents the Latino community very well. Puerto Rico has always wanted this and has asked for it passionately,” said Omar López, District Manager in charge of Puerto Rico and South Florida.
While he could not say where future store openings would be, the natural go-to locations would be the larger towns of Ponce and Mayagüez, inside malls with high foot traffic.Omar López, District Manager in charge of Puerto Rico and South Florida.
“My focus as district manager is to expand in Puerto Rico, because we’re perceiving that need from customers,” he said.
Conscious of the island’s current economic woes, López said he felt “personally proud to be able to bring jobs to Puerto Rico. More than 300 people who are showing passion and positive energy, and who are very happy to be working with us.”
Bath & Body Works began recruiting its staff in April, receiving more than 700 applications for the positions available. Five of those slots went to current Bath & Body Works employees in other jurisdictions who got the opportunity to transfer to Puerto Rico to assist in training and the store openings.