NEW YORK — Burberry’s iconic plaid is taking on a new hue this fall.

Following the runaway success of the house’s Burberry Brit master brand, a sassy little sister to the women’s version called Burberry Brit Red will be launched in the U.S. in late October.

The scent — created by Givaudan’s Natalie Gracia-Cetto — is a “gourmand Oriental” fragrance, noted Marcella Cacci, senior vice president of global licensing for Burberry. Gracia-Cetto also did the juice for the women’s scent; the men’s version was created by Givaudan’s Antoine Maisondieu.

“Burberry Brit is a playful green Oriental,” said Cacci. “Red is a more sensual scent. Together, the two scents give women options for different moods.”

Brit Red’s juice opens with notes of sparkling green mandarin, rhubarb and gingerbread; middle notes of fresh jasmine and voluptuous red roses, and a drydown of warm vanilla and sandalwood.

The bottle, designed by Fabien Baron, echoes the shape of Brit’s — a glass rectangle with the signature Burberry plaid — although the new edition is tinted a vibrant red. The scent will be available in a 3.3-oz. size, which will retail for $80.

Don Loftus, president and chief executive officer of Cosmopolitan Cosmetics U.S. Inc., whose firm distributes Burberry’s scents in the U.S., noted that Brit Red is expected — as was her older sister before her — to appeal to a very wide range of users. “There are Brit fans in their teens and Brit fans in their 80s, and everyone in between,” he said. “We expect Brit Red to have very wide appeal.”

The one thing that Brit Red won’t have, however, is a wide distribution base. Burberry and Cosmopolitan are keeping its distribution to just 80 doors, with a total worldwide of about 150. In the U.S., it will be available in Saks Fifth Avenue doors and Burberry boutiques. In the U.K., it will be exclusive to Selfridges and Burberry boutiques.

While none of the executives would comment on projected first-year sales, industry sources estimated that Brit Red will do about $1.2 million at retail in the U.S. and a total of about $3.5 million at retail globally. While national advertising is not currently planned, Brit Red will be promoted in co-op advertising. In addition, more than 250,000 samples are expected to be distributed in the first six months.Brit for women, Brit Red’s big sister, launched last fall in the U.S. Globally, the women’s Brit is said to have racked up sales of more than $80 million globally in 2003 following an August launch in the U.S., the U.K. and France’s Sephora doors and launches later that fall in the rest of the world. Sources estimate that it is on track to do upwards of $165 million globally in total since launch by yearend 2004..

Together, the nine Burberry scents in the house’s portfolio are said to have produced more than $400 million in global sales last year, driven by Burberry Brit — which sources estimate accounts for at least 30 percent of that total. The 2004 year-end total is expected to be closer to $500 million, said sources.

Cosmopolitan Cosmetics has just launched Burberry Brit for Men in the U.S., where it is currently a Bloomingdale’s exclusive; the retailer has a one-month exclusive with the scent and currently is stocking it in 29 doors. The line includes eaux de toilette in 1.7-oz. and 3.4-oz. sizes, $45 and $62, respectively; a 3.4-oz. aftershave, $45; a 5-oz. soothing aftershave balm, $40; a cleansing body bar, $22; a 5-oz. body cleansing gel, $28, and a 2.5-oz. deodorant, $22.

In total, the Brit for Men collection is said to have racked up sales of more than $100,000 at Bloomingdale’s in the seven days since it was launched.

While Nicholas Munafo, senior vice president of marketing, training and public relations for Cosmopolitan Cosmetics, wouldn’t discuss numbers, he said that the company is “thrilled” with the scent’s strong move out of the starting gate at Bloomingdale’s.

“Within the first visual week, Brit for Men has surpassed our expectations and is significantly the largest men’s launch in Bloomingdale’s history,” said Munafo.

What’s unusual is that Brit for Men is performing at the same level as the women’s Brit — considering that in general, men’s scents do about half the volume of their women’s counterparts, noted Howard Kreitzman, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for beauty at Bloomingdale’s. “The business is great,” he said. “The product is terrific, as is the marketing campaign. Burberry’s brand recognition is very strong for our customer. Brit for Men is doing well across all doors — it seems to have a very diverse appeal among our clientele.”In late September, Brit for Men will widen its distribution to Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and selected department stores, with about 1,200 doors expected by yearend. More U.S. doors will be added in spring 2005.

— Julie Naughton

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