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Arden Narrows 4Q Losses

NEW YORK — Higher sales and lower debt helped Elizabeth Arden Inc. narrow losses in its fiscal fourth quarter.

For the period ended June 30, the New York-based beauty and fragrance manufacturer reported a loss of $9.1 million, or $1.12 a diluted share, compared with a loss of $15.1 million, or 90 cents, in the year-ago period.

Earnings were significantly impacted by management’s efforts to reduce debt and bring the company back to profitability. Excluding charges related to debt retirement, stock conversions and the consolidation of the company’s domestic distribution facilities losses were $8.6 million, or 35 cents a share.

“The reduction in debt and the corresponding increase in equity value of the company was almost a $100 million reduction in debt, and $100 million improvement in the book value of the company,” said Scott Beattie, chairman and chief executive officer, during the company conference call.

Sales for the period rose 17.2 percent to $154.6 million, against sales of $131.9 million in the year-ago quarter. Fragrance sales to the company’s mass retail customers, as well as the April launch of the Provocative Woman fragrance, spurred sales.

“Provocative Woman was launched in the United States in the spring season, and it is meeting or exceeding our expectations as it continues to rank in the top 20 brands,” said Paul West, chief operating officer, during the conference call.

Looking ahead, management has high expectations for its launch of the Curious by Britney Spears fragrance, slated to ship on Sept. 7. — Ross Tucker

Henri Bendel Moves ‘Forward’ With Skin Care

NEW YORK — Henri Bendel is applying what it learned from color cosmetics to skin care with its new Face Forward department.

“We looked at our business overall and [found] there is such a high penetration in color cosmetics,” said Laura Saio, merchandising manager of cosmetics for Henri Bendel. “There is a penetration for skin care, but the challenge is to [increase that], focus on utilizing what we do best in color and translate that into the skin care and treatment business.

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“We are focusing on this as a launch pad for new skin care lines — we will put them together in one critical mass to make a statement in the store,” Saio added.

The featured brands include Boscia, N.V. Perricone, Epicuren, Freeze 24/7, Mario Badescu, Ole Henriksen, StriVectin-SD, Therapy Systems and Z. Bigatti. In September, Rodan & Fields is slated to make its debut and will occupy the space currently occupied by Giella, a custom-blend color cosmetics brand.

The department will occupy about 36 linear feet along one wall, with each brand having its own case and identity. Currently, the skin care category accounts for less than 20 percent of the retailer’s total beauty business; Saio noted the goal is to increase it to 25 percent by yearend and to reach 35 percent within 12 months.

“Our customer base is fairly young and pretty, and she’s started to think about skin care,” said Teril Turner, director of marketing. “Whether she’s trying to refresh her skin after too many weekends in the Hamptons or starting to worry about fine lines, there’s a huge opportunity to reach out and show her we have a unique take on this category. It’s not your mom’s skin care.”

Turner added that there will be an “aggressive events schedule to back it all up.”

Bendel’s has already set up its promotional calendar with the brands, including support, exclusivity, personal appearances, clinics and workshops.

“We know we need to have excitement and momentum in this area the same way we have it in color,” said Turner. “That’s what works for us, and that’s what our customer enjoys.” — Kristin Finn