By  on January 10, 2005

L'Artisan Parfumeur Spun Off From Cradle

NEW YORK — L’Artisan Parfumeur has left the Cradle.

Cradle Holdings Inc., the parent company of Penhaligon’s, Erno Laszlo and — until Thursday — L’Artisan Parfumeur, has spun off the French fragrance company into an independent, privately held firm just two years after acquiring it.

San Francisco-based private equity firm Fox Paine & Co. will be the primary backer of the newly separate entities. Saul Fox, chief executive officer of Fox Paine, will be chairman of Cradle and L’Artisan.

While L’Artisan’s president and ceo, Rémi Cléro, will remain in his posts, personnel changes will affect Fox Paine and Cradle’s two remaining subsidiaries. Rip Mason, Cradle’s former ceo, has joined Fox Paine as senior managing director. Alan Fearnley has succeeded Mason in the Cradle ceo post and has been named president of Cradle. Also, Mason was named co-vice chairman of Cradle and nonexecutive chairman of Penhaligon’s and Erno Laszlo. Robert Nielsen, one of Cradle’s founding executives, will remain as co-vice chairman.

The rationale behind the spin-off, Mason said during an interview Thursday, was to maintain as purely as possible the French brand’s heritage.

“The way we think about L’Artisan is it’s such a distinctly French brand,” said Mason. The spin-off “is a great way for us to allow it to establish its French roots and its own culture.

“Creating an opportunity for it to operate independently and continue its development in France and in the U.S. — and to take advantage of its French perspective — is something that will benefit the brand significantly,” Mason remarked.

Robert Trauber, formerly executive vice president of Cradle, has been appointed general manager of Erno Laszlo and U.S. general manager of Penhaligon’s.

Shiseido to Shutter Studios

Shiseido’s novel means for promoting brand awareness in the U.S. is coming to an end.

The company, which operated two Shiseido Studios — or interactive consumer learning centers, where hundreds of Shiseido branded products and a menu of skin care services all could be experienced for free — is closing the spaces on Jan. 15.The first of the studios, which did not sell a single item, originally opened on Spring Street in SoHo in November 1999. A second studio opened on Broadway in Santa Monica, Calif., in April of 2000.

Heidi Manheimer, president of operations for Shiseido Cosmetics (America) Ltd. explained that, rather than continuing to open more studio formats in the U.S., Shiseido took what it learned from customers in the two shops and has applied it in the 850 doors where the brand is carried — and sold — in the U.S.

“The mission was to increase brand awareness in an environment that was our own [and] we opened the two studios — labs, so to speak,” said Manheimer. “We got to a point where we did satisfy that need in that amount of space and couldn’t do more of it. So, strategically, we put all the aspects of services into our stores.”

Manheimer noted that between 30,000 and 40,000 new customers spent at least an hour learning about the brand in the studios. And that doesn’t count the number of walk-in clients who didn’t register. “We learned what kept them coming and interested,” said Manheimer. “It was a great opportunity, and 90 percent of the [studio] customers wanted to purchase products.”

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