By  on April 18, 2005

MILAN — With Deborah Group’s domestic growth virtually at its limit, the century-old Italian beauty company is eyeing new ways to expand its brands across the globe.

In the hands of the fourth generation of the Bonetti family, Deborah Group here recently unveiled a five-year vision that will see the advent of new lines and the exploration of new markets and sales channels. The company boasts a portfolio of seven cosmetics lines overall, in the makeup and skin care categories, and in the works are the firm’s first fragrances — and no less than three more cosmetics lines.

The cornerstone of the five-year strategy, according to Gianluca Bonetti, vice president of Deborah Group, is to build two collections — its Deborah color line and its Bioetyc skin care line — into global brands.

While export sales account for 30 percent of Deborah Group’s total turnover, the company hopes to bolster that figure to 50 percent in five years. Deborah Group reaps 120 million euros, or $156.8 million at average exchange rates, in annual retail sales. Some 70 percent of this figure is generated on Deborah Group’s home turf.

“Our core business for the last 30 years has been color cosmetics under our main brand, Deborah,” said Bonetti, who added the company had a consolidated 17 percent share of the Italian color cosmetics market, in addition to sales of 20 million units annually. Deborah Group also had strong results in Spain, added Bonetti, and a good position in France.

As part of Deborah Group’s new international push, an escalation of publicity and advertising is planned, Bonetti noted. “In the past, we were always shy when it came to exports but now we have decided to push the business to its fullest potential,” said Bonetti.

That potential will be tapped further with a venture into the fragrance arena. After collaborating with a yet-to-be-named sports celebrity, the company’s first men’s fragrance will be launched early next year, with a women’s fragrance expected to follow in September 2006. Distribution for the fragrances will initially be concentrated in Italy, Spain and France.

Deborah Group’s international reach will also be widened by adding to and expanding the company’s stable of niche lines. First off the mark will be Hydro Color — a 30-stockkeeping-unit line of curative lip items that the company is planning to launch next year in Europe and North America. Then, a yet-to-be-named nail care brand will be launched in Continental Europe in 2006.Another brand, Rouge Baiser — a 100-sku line of luxury lipsticks — will be selectively distributed starting at the end of this year. The line, which was originally created by a French pharmacist in 1927, who wanted to create a nontransfer lipstick, will be launched in 500 department stores across Europe.

“We want to keep the line niche,” said Sofia Bonetti, art director of Deborah Group. “Consumers are looking for real products with a story behind them and, with Rouge Baiser, we can offer that.”

In 2007, the company plans to enter 18,000 pharmacies across Europe with a still-unnamed lip care and color line. It’s hoped that the subsequent launch of an antiaging skin care line that’s in development will reinforce Deborah Group’s first steps into the pharmacy channel.

“This [pharmacy] channel has huge potential as a long-term strategy, and is becoming more important in Continental Europe,” said Gianluca Bonetti. “There are no chains, and they offer a credible business that is growing and we are at the beginning of it.”

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