Harvey Nichols is close to signing its first new format Beauty Bazaar shops as it eyes store numbers in the double-digits.

Harvey Nichols is aiming to exploit the gap for standalone luxury beauty stores

Joseph Wan, chief executive of the luxury department store, said it is in “advanced talks” to sign for two sites for the standalone beauty stores, called Beauty Bazaar by Harvey Nichols, one in an undisclosed central London location and another believed to be Liverpool One shopping centre.

Wan expects to sign for both stores by October.

Wan, who anticipates both stores to open simultaneously by next August, described beauty as a “category-killer” that is holding up well, despite the downturn.

He said: “We did a lot of research into which category is the most resilient. Beauty is the last category in which people rein in their spending during difficult times.”

The UK launch of the format follows a trial in Hong Kong last December. Wan said: “We are confident it will work in the UK.”

The 10,000 sq ft to 20,000 sq ft stores will aim to exploit a gap in the market for standalone, luxury beauty stores. The Beauty Bazaar by Harvey Nichols will carry high-end brands with exclusive lines.

Wan said it was still exploring other formats to launch in the UK as it eyes growth. Standalone fashion stores and a Harvey Nichols eaterie or wine bar have been tabled although Wan said it was premature to talk about other concepts.

He said: “We expect trading conditions to remain difficult for a few years but we believe there are opportunities for growth. We just need to adapt to what customers want.”