MILAN — After a year of speculation that a licensing deal was in the works, Estee Lauder and Missoni unveiled a new fragrance partnership in Milan last week.
Calling the pact the perfect marriage of two "great" family companies with similar ideals, William P. Lauder, president and chief executive officer of the Estee Lauder Cos., outlined the agreement — which calls for the launch of a Missoni women's fragrance in spring 2006 — during a gathering to announce the deal at Missoni's apartment overlooking Milan's public gardens.
"We believe Missoni and Estee Lauder share the core value of being family companies and [Missoni] shares the same family values we do," said Lauder. "This key image is very important to us."
Terms of the long-awaited deal were not divulged. Lauder stated it plans to create and market Missoni fragrances and related products through its Aramis and Designer Fragrances division.
Also present at the Milan meeting was Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, group president of Estee Lauder; Angela Missoni, creative director of Missoni, and her brother, Vittorio Missoni, who is marketing director and sales manager of the family-owned company.
The companies are no strangers to each other: Lauder collaborated with Missoni 20 years ago by doing makeup backstage at Missoni fashion shows in Milan. Lauder also did makeup for Missoni's subsequent fashion advertising campaigns.
Renown for its trademark zigzag prints and vibrant use of color, the Milan-based Missoni fashion brand is seen by some in the industry as the perfect launching pad for a color line, a possibility the companies haven't ruled out.
"We don't know at this stage [what other types of businesses the license will entail]," said Bousquet-Chavanne. "The Missoni name has great heritage and depth to it. It's a unique universe and the first step for it is a global fragrance. We do have plenty of ideas for the brand because it has so much energy and creativity."
Founded by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni as a knitwear producer in 1953, the fashion house made a foray into the fragrance business in the early Eighties. After three fragrances were produced and launched under license by Max Factor, Orlane bought out Max Factor and the scents and license were discontinued in 2000.Angela Missoni said she wanted to create something she called "really Missoni" for the first fragrance. "It's going to be part of my vision for the brand," said the striking designer, who is responsible for rejuvenating and injecting sexiness into the label.
A sexy restyling of Missoni has seduced a new customer to the brand, while the label has managed to maintain its old customer base, according to Vittorio Missoni, a phenomenon that has all of Missoni's global markets moving — exactly the reason the brand is ready for fragrance, according to Bousquet-Chavanne.
"It is the right moment to go into fragrance," said Bousquet-Chavanne. "The brand has so much energy behind it, you can feel the innovation and see it in the campaigns."
For Lauder, whose fragrance portfolio is American-centric, the new license promises to diversify the beauty giant's offering, Bousquet-Chavanne observed.
"It's an important step we are taking with Missoni," he said. "In Europe, Missoni has a powerful base with an Italian name and we are seeing a tremendous resurgence with Italian designer fragrances in Europe."
Lauder echoed that sentiment, saying the Missoni deal would give the company a stronger strategic presence in Europe.
"From a beauty standpoint, we don't have penetration in Europe [and] our objective is to get market share in Europe," said Lauder. "There is room to enhance our brands and, of course, room to enhance our fragrance business here. We must do that and, to achieve it, we must have great brands like Missoni."
He didn't elaborate, however, about whether the firm was considering signing other licensing deals away from home.
"Missoni is the first European brand for us and we hope it sends out a strong message that we want to be a global fragrance player," said Lauder, adding, "I'm not certain whether it will be the start of more European-based licenses, but it's the first step, and we will see how many other steps we are willing to take."
Asked if Estee Lauder had put in a bid for the Dolce & Gabbana beauty license, Lauder indicated that he understood that Procter & Gamble has won the competition, although the outcome has not been announced.He quipped, "The contract that Dolce & Gabbana and P&G signed was an extraordinarily rich deal, and at those rates it was a deal too high for us. Some of our competitors were also equally uninterested," stated Lauder. — Stephanie Epiro
L'Oreal to Buy SkinCeuticals
PARIS — L'Oreal is set to snap up a new derm concern.
The French beauty giant said Wednesday it has signed a deal to acquire U.S. professional treatment brand SkinCeuticals. The Dallas-based brand's distribution network comprises dermatologists' and plastic surgeons' offices as well as spas.
"The acquisition of SkinCeuticals allows L'Oreal to strengthen its position in high-performance, professional skin care," stated L'Oreal's chairman and chief executive officer, Lindsay Owen-Jones. "This market, in which SkinCeuticals is a leading player, is a particularly promising one with high international potential."
"SkinCeuticals has already acquired an excellent reputation in the U.S. dermatological world," stated Jean-Paul Agon, president and ceo of L'Oreal USA. "This acquisition will also allow L'Oreal to enter the strong and growing market of high-end spas in the U.S."
SkinCeuticals will become part of L'Oreal's Active Cosmetics Division, which already includes the Vichy, La Roche-Posay and Inneov brands. Founded in 1994, the privately held firm had sales of $35 million last year.
The deal will be finalized "upon the customary closing conditions, including antitrust clearance," according to L'Oreal. — Brid Costello
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