Garnier Fructis Seeks Fuel Injection

NEW YORK — Garnier Fructis has revved up its marketing efforts to reach young men by recruiting NASCAR driver Brian Vickers, making L’Oréal USA the latest beauty company to align itself with the racing sport.

Garnier Fructis and Vickers’ racing team, Hendrick Motorsports, inked a multiyear deal in which the hair care brand will be a major associate sponsor of the No. 25 Chevrolet cars driven by Vickers in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

As part of the agreement, Vickers and the No. 25 car will be outfitted with Garnier’s trademark neon green color in two races this year, namely at the Texas Motor Speedway on April 17 and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 7. Vickers, 22, will serve as spokesman for Garnier Fructis hair products and will appear in print advertising, on point-of-purchase materials and on in-store displays.

“NASCAR has enormous, universal appeal,” said Karen Fondu, president of Maybelline New York-Garnier. “Like Garnier Fructis, NASCAR is dynamic, spirited and all about high performance,” she added.

While Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick acknowledged that hair care was an unconventional and unexpected sponsorship category for NASCAR, he said the Garnier Fructis partnership was a positive for the sport.

Vickers, who started racing go-carts at the age of 10, commented, “It’s great to represent such a cool, fun brand.”

Garnier Fructis — L’Oréal USA’s largest launch in history — entered the U.S. market in 2003, and now ranks among the top five hair care brands in the mass market.

The move follows similar deals by beauty companies announced last year. Elizabeth Arden signed Jeff Gordon for its Halston Z-14 scent, and Avon Products nabbed upcoming NASCAR star Kasey Kane as the spokesman for Avon’s Pro Sport Daily Performance men’s fragrance and grooming line. — Molly Prior

A Different Take on ‘Jasmin’

PARIS — For the launch of its fifth fragrance, called Jasmin de Nuit, The Different Company has kept it all in the family. Celine Ellena, a perfumer at Charabot and the daughter of Jean-Claude Ellena, is taking over where her father — now the house nose at Hermès — left off. For her fine fragrance debut, after 10 years spent mainly in the cosmetics fragrance sector, Ellena chose to create a perfume using jasmine, which is not, coincidentally, her father’s favorite flower. Jasmin de Nuit, however, is a fragrance all her own.“My father grows jasmine and it reminds me of family dinners on the terrace in summer,” said Ellena.

“Even though jasmine is a very delicate flower, it is also very sensual, and I wanted to play up that angle.” It is sufficiently amber and woody, she added, to be worn by either men or women.

“Our philosophy is to grant the perfumer total freedom of expression,” noted Thierry de Baschmakoff, who founded The Different Company in 2000 and acts as artistic director. The company’s managing director, Luc Gabriel, added, “When it came to the focus group, it was a committee of three.”

The fragrance will launch in early 2005 in Paris before rolling out to selected stores worldwide.

It was introduced at Le Printemps Design at the Centre Pompidou and the Ritz in Paris earlier this month, and will roll out to selected stores worldwide through March. Jasmin de Nuit also has joined a special presentation of niche perfumes at Sephora on the Champs-Elysées. The scent retails for 105 euros, or $136.90 at current exchange rates, for 90 ml., and 320 euros, or $417.20, for 250 ml. — Tina Isaac

Marionnaud Sales Up

PARIS — Marionnaud Parfumeries registered 2004 sales of 1.09 billion euros, or $1.36 billion, up 6.8 percent over 2003.

For the 12 months ended Dec. 31, the perfumery chain’s business in France rose 4.3 percent to 713.9 million euros, or $888 million at average exchange, year-on-year. In other European countries, it posted sales of 375.9 million euros, or $467.6 million, a 12 percent increase.

Marionnaud’s total fourth-quarter sales clocked 6.1 percent gains to 382 million euros, or $495.5 million.

The company also revised its annual sales for 2004 and 2003, based purely on cash transactions. Due to this change in accounting methods, which no longer take into account such variables as loyalty cards, the impact on both years’ revenue was about 2.6 percent, of which 3 percent was in France and 1.9 percent was in other European countries.

On Jan. 14, Hutchison Whampoa’s A.S. Watson division placed a bid to acquire Marionnaud.The total cost of the transaction, including debt, is estimated at 900 million euros, or $1.17 billion at current exchange rate.

If given the green light, as expected, in March, the friendly acquisition will create the world’s largest perfumery cosmetics seller.

Marionnaud was in prime position to be sold by its majority owners, the Frydman family. The perfumery chain’s stock price had been hit hard in 2004. Last Dec. 21, for instance, it lost more than 30 percent of its value following Marionnaud’s posting of net results for the January through June 2004 period. Losses — stemming from the new accounting methods and correction of errors dating to 2002 and 2003 — came in at 79 million euros, or $98.3 million, against net profits of 6.4 million euros, or $7 million, in the first six months of 2003.

Sales for the first half of 2004 were 515.3 million euros, or $640 million, up 8.5 percent year-on-year. Marionnaud shares were last traded on the Paris Bourse on Jan. 11. — Jennifer Weil

Limiting Animal Testing

ALBANY, N.Y. — The testing of cosmetics ingredients in an animal’s eyes or on its skin would be prohibited, according to legislation introduced by Assemblyman Alexander “Pete” Grannis (D., N.Y.).

One specific test that would fall under the prohibition involves putting drops into a rabbit’s eyes to measure the irritating effects, often burning the rabbit’s eyes in the process, said Grannis.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals posted on its Web site that New York-based Revlon, Estée Lauder, Clinique and Almay voluntarily ended the practice of animal testing, while other companies headquartered in the state, including L’Oréal, Clairol and Sally Hansen, use some form of animal testing and would be affected if the legislation becomes law.

The bill has been referred to the Assembly’s Public Health Committee. — Carol Breen

Beauty Seminar Forged

NEW YORK — The Fragrance Foundation has teamed with NPD Beauty, a division of market information company The NPD Group, for a seminar called the 2004 Beauty Year in Review.The event, which will take place at the Metropolitan Club next Monday, will feature presentations by retailers about the strategies and promotions that worked for them during the holiday season.

Additionally, market research and trends within the beauty and fragrance industry will be explored. A panel will feature executives from Lord & Taylor, Federated Merchandising Group, Sephora and Avon.

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