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Beauty Beat: DuWop Unveils First Eye Color Collection … Kao Corp. Working on Deal To Acquire Molton Brown

In a step to becoming a more well-rounded color cosmetics brand, DuWop has launched its first eye color collection, DuWop Eyes.

DuWop Unveils First Eye Color Collection
NEW YORK — In a step to becoming a more well-rounded color cosmetics brand, DuWop has launched its first eye color collection, DuWop Eyes.

The new cream-to-powder eye shadows, part of the company’s plans to expand its color business, are available in six palettes.

The eye color collection was developed to provide day-to-night, single-color looks within one sleek, credit card-size compact. “DuWop Eyes gives women the tools to create sophisticated looks, but takes the guesswork out of it,” said DuWop president Cristina Bartolucci. “We contribute a twist — it’s almost a little game we play,” Bartolucci said, discussing the DuWop philosophy of creating individual products that offer quirky benefits.

Each $29 eye palette was named after a single color — Blue Eyes, Green Eyes, Violet Eyes, Gray Eyes, Brown Eyes and Amber Eyes — and is packaged in a matching compact. Inside are light, medium and dark hues of each shade, a silver or gold shimmer shadow, a cream eyeliner and a double-tipped, mini shadow/liner brush.

Retail sales of DuWop Eyes are expected to reach about $2 million by yearend, according to Bartolucci.

But the eyes don’t have it all. DuWop also recently launched a six-shade range called Toe Polish. The product’s “twist” is the addition of tea-tree oil, a natural anti-fungal. The formulations are designed to be high-shine, nonyellowing and fast-drying, the company said. Annual retail sales of Toe Polish are expected to be about $1.5 million.

The $16 million indie brand began as a color line six years ago, but given DuWop’s eclectic assortment — including Lip Venom plumping lip gloss and I Gels eye discs — retailers that carry the brand are debating whether to merchandise DuWop in their color or treatment sections.

Some retailers have responded to DuWop’s renewed color focus by relocating the brand to more prominent locations. Sephora is moving the brand into its color department. The retailer had originally launched DuWop’s lip-plumping products in its skin care area.

According to Courtney Baber, Sephora’s vice president of merchandising and divisional merchandise manager for color, the full line will occupy endcaps in 25 locations by yearend. Baber noted the retailer’s endcaps are normally reserved for quick-purchase, impulse brands and seasonal bestsellers. “They tend to be brands with a very tight assortment that offer really unique products,” she said.

This story first appeared in the July 12, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Nordstrom carries DuWop products in 82 doors and it is moving the brand from central tester display units to wall space in 26 locations. “Nordstrom customers love DuWop products; we are constantly reordering,” said Janice Dusina, regional cosmetics manager for the retailer, “so when DuWop expanded the line, we wanted to give them a bigger visual impact on our floors.”

DuWop reappeared this month at Studio at Fred Segal, which discontinued the brand over a year ago, according to managing director Shayne Hart. “Over the last year or so, they’ve done extraordinary things with the brand,” he said. “Their view is to create innovative product that does multiple things equally well.”

Because DuWop relies on word-of-mouth buzz in lieu of advertising, the new eye collection, which is scheduled to launch next month throughout the brand’s 16-country distribution network, will not be supported by an ad campaign. DuWop plans to complete its color business with mascara, foundation and face powder launches by mid-2006.
— Karen James

Kao Corp. Working on Deal To Acquire Molton Brown
TOKYO — Japan’s Kao Corp. has confirmed it is negotiating to buy London-based beauty brand and retailer Molton Brown.

“Kao Corp. plans to release further information in due course,” Kao said in a statement.

Kao’s current beauty brand holdings include Biore, Jergens, Curel, Ban and John Frieda, among others.

There is speculation in some industry circles that Kao’s bid for Molton Brown may well be in excess of 50 billion yen, or $455 million at current exchange. Kao is also considering making a bid to purchase Kanebo and Kanebo Cosmetics from the state-run Industrial Revitalization Organization. Two years ago, Kao unsuccessfully tried to acquire Kanebo Cosmetics from then financially ailing Kanebo Ltd.