By and  on March 11, 1994

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- An air of quiet confidence characterized last week's Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association convention here -- the organization's 100th such gathering.

Many cosmetics and fragrance manufacturers said retail results for January and February were surprisingly healthy, considering the bad winter weather.

"The mood of the convention is upbeat," said Lawrence J. Aiken, president and chief executive officer of Sanofi Beaute Inc. Sanofi's sales were 3 to 4 percent ahead for the last two months, Aiken said, adding that his strongest performing brands were the Oscar de la Renta, Opium and L'Air du Temps fragrances and Yves Saint Laurent BeautÄ.

"The mood is better," said Jerry Levin, president and ceo of Revlon Inc. "People

are beginning to get more confidence." Without elaborating, Levin said Revlon is chalking up "significant" sales gains this year, driven mostly by strong showings from the mass market business and the Ultima II division.

After three years of corporate refocusing and restructuring, Revlon is ready to roll, Levin claimed.

"The attitude is good and the creativity is back," he said. "This year, the new product program is the most exciting in the company's history."

"March looks good," said Jerry Abernathy, president of Coty Inc. Coty, one of the leading mass market fragrance houses, got off to a slow start in January. But the sales trend caught up in February, and Coty ended the month slightly ahead of last year.

"Mother's Day will be incredible," Abernathy predicted.

Among Coty's standout performers are Vanilla Fields, Exclamation, Stetson and Truly Lace.

"People are looking forward to a better year," said Robert N. Hiatt, president of Maybelline Inc. He added that Maybelline is projecting double-digit gains for the first half.

Hiatt said the mass market in general showed a 2 percent jump in January, "even with the bad weather."

This week, as an indication of the company's buoyant outlook, Maybelline named Gerald Beddall, formerly president of Clairol Inc., as executive vice president, a new post. He will be responsible for Maybelline International and Yardley North America Research and Development, along with business development opportunities, such as acquisitions and strategic planning.Hiatt declined to give details about what kind of acquisition he has in mind, saying only that it will be in the area of "personal care."

"I think the U.S. is in pretty good shape," said Robert M. Phillips, president of Elizabeth Arden and chairman and ceo of Unilever Prestige Personal Products Worldwide. "The economy is clearly getting better." Phillips said Arden finished 1993 with 10 to 15 percent sales gains and noted, "We'll do the same amount this year or a little better." He said Arden had a good Christmas with only one exception: "The only thing that didn't sell well for us was the blockbuster."

As for this year, promising retail reports have begun trickling in following the Feb. 20 launch of Arden's major new treatment line, Alpha-Ceramide.

"It's very good everywhere," said Phillips, whose three-year tenure as CTFA chairman ended with this convention. He will be succeeded by Charles Cooper, senior vice president of Helene Curtis Industries.

The four-day convention, which ended Saturday night, was well attended. According to E. Edward Kavanaugh, CTFA president, 925 people registered, compared with 790 last year.

Kavanaugh attributed the upsurge partly to the celebration this year of the CTFA's 100th anniversary.

Arie Kopelman, president and ceo of Chanel Inc., said this year's retail numbers have been good enough to bolster the confidence of industry executives. "There was very much a business-as-usual mindset," Kopelman said, adding that executives are dealing with problems on a "more paced and analytical basis than in the past."

"There was less of a frenetic element in the equation," he added.

One of the key groups at the convention is the fragrance suppliers, who often have the first inklings of what's happening in the global fragrance market. They saw reason for both optimism and concern.

"If you're speaking of the fragrance business on a worldwide basis, there is enormous growth potential that we haven't begun to capture," said Eugene P. Grisanti, chairman, ceo and president of International Flavors & Fragrances. "For the U.S., there will be good growth, but not at the level we saw in the Sixties and Seventies."The personal fragrance business was booming along with 6 to 7 percent annual gains in those years.

For the Nineties, Grisanti projected a yearly growth rate of 3 to 4 percent beginning this year, as the country emerges from the recession. He also predicted a pickup in the second half, when a number of major introductions are scheduled. The business will be further stimulated in 1995, he said, when another slew of launches are expected to make a large splash.

The IFF chairman sees overseas opportunities in Latin America, the Far East and China, a country not known for heavy fragrance consumption. As for product expansion, Grisanti predicted growth in the environmental and home fragrance market and a budding promise in new fragrance ingredients that companies say can alter moods.

"I think the consumers are bored," said Jean Amic, president and ceo of the Paris-based Givaudan-Roure Corp. Even though Amic predicted the business will be flat this year, he said there is plenty of room for success by manufacturers who market "consumer-friendly" fragrances.

He cited Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers, with its low prices and open-sell merchandising, as one example. Another is Issey Miyake's scent L'Eau d'Issey, with its "beautiful execution."

The right product marketed with the needs of the consumer in mind can be a winner, said Amic, who added, "The danger in a bearish market is that people tend to play it safe, and the reason the market is bearish is because the consumer is bored."

Jean-Pierre Linder, corporate vice president of fragrances worldwide at Firmenich, said the torrid pace of last year's launches is likely to continue, as the flow of new projects has not ebbed. "What worries me these days," he said, "is that well-established existing brands will be eroded. We're seeing lines that have been on the market for awhile plateau or decline."

Nevertheless, the flood of new entries last year has stimulated the market for now, and Linder sees a slight improvement this year.

"Last year the market was up 2.5 to 3 percent," he said. "[This year] I think it will be a little higher."

As at past conventions, there was plenty of talk among the cabanas concerning upcoming new products:In September, Revlon will launch its new Fire & Ice women's fragrance. It will draw on one of the strongest brand names in Revlon history, first used in 1953 for the company's lipstick and nail enamel.

Also from Revlon will come Age Defying Makeup, a line of moisturizing foundations aimed at women over 35. The April launch will coincide with the debut of Melanie Griffith in the product's advertising.

David Nugent, president of Riviera Concepts of Toronto, said Nicole Miller for Men will be introduced in the fall. The scent, developed by Givaudan-Roure, has fruity top notes including honeydew and apple. Among the middle notes are tarragon and leather, finishing with a drydown of sandalwood, vanilla, oak moss and amber.

From Avon Products will come a masculine spinoff of Anew, its top-selling alpha-hydroxy acid-based skin care line. On April 19, the company will unveil Anew Performance for Men, a line consisting of three products: a 4.4-oz. foaming shave gel at $5.50, a 2-oz. Face Complex product, containing alpha-hydroxy acid, at 15.50, and a Skin Soothing Lotion with sunscreen, at $10.50 for three ounces.

What sets the items apart from other men's grooming lines is Avon's claim that it reduces visible signs of aging while providing a more comfortable shave.

QVC's Tova Borgnine was showing off two new products: Cactine Skin Renual Cleanser and Cactine Skin Renual Creme. The 6.7-oz. cleanser will be offered on QVC during three one-hour shows today and Saturday for $16.50, and thereafter will be sold for $29.50 in Borgnine's catalog. The 1.7-oz. cream will be offered on TV for $27.50 and for $39.50 in the catalog.

Borgnine said 10,000 units of each product have been produced and predicted stocks will sell out within the first two hours of programming.

Rochas is planning to launch a new women's fragrance on Sept. 1, according to Thierry Rouquette, president of the U.S.-based Parfums Rochas. The introduction will be staged simultaneously in Europe, the U.S. and Canada.

The Donna Karan Beauty Co. is planning to launch skin care for the face in June, according to Jane Terker, president.

There was speculation that the New York-based Parfums Boucheron Corp., headed by Joshua Smirin, is in contention to become the U.S. distributor for L'Eau d'Issey and Gaultier fragrances, two hot-selling lines manufactured by Beaute Prestige International of Paris.A spokeswoman for Boucheron confirmed that talks are in progress but stressed that "nothing has been finalized." BPI executives in Paris said Boucheron is not the only company being considered.

The biggest stir at the convention was touched off by events that took place on the other side of the Atlantic. The announcement in Paris on Friday that Claude Saujet had departed as chairman and chief executive of Sanofi BeautÄ SA set off a wave of speculation in Boca Raton and sent Aiken off to Paris.

At issue was the question of whether Aiken, who is worldwide president of Sanofi's American brands, would still be relocated to France.

As reported in these columns Thursday, he won't.

After discussing the issue with senior management of the French parent company, Elf-Sanofi, Aiken said Wednesday that he had been asked to remain in New York.

He also said Donald G. Loftus will remain with Sanofi. Loftus, former president of Vepro USA Ltd., was recently recruited by Sanofi as an executive vice president to manage daily U.S. operations in New York while Aiken was in Paris.

Aiken said Wednesday that because he will be traveling frequently while trying to build the overseas business, "it is essential" that Loftus be in New York.

Sanofi was not the only company with a change at the top. John Saxton was making his last CTFA appearance as Procter & Gamble's vice president of cosmetics and fragrance products in charge of the Cover Girl and Max Factor brands.

As of April 4, Saxton will become P&G's vice president of national government relations. He will be succeeded by Beth Kaplan, formerly general manager of P&G's Olestra, shortening and oils division.

Talking about his four-year tenure, Saxton noted the strong unit growth in Cover Girl in 1993, something that pushed the brand's market share of unit volume to 24.9 percent, an increase of 1.2 percent.

He also said Max Factor had initiated the second and final phase of its worldwide relaunch by introducing new mascaras and eye and lip pencils.

As for the work that remains, Saxton said now that Cover Girl and Max Factor have been absorbed into P&G, the task is to push the businesses forward.Noting that new Max Factor shelving units have been installed in retail chains, Saxton said the company must continue to drive in-store merchandising and advertising. Driving the business forward was much on the mind of Andrea Jung, who joined Avon Products two months ago as president of the company's product marketing group for North America.

Jung, who said she is still planning a course of action, added that her strategies will be based on a renewed emphasis of Avon's identity as a direct sales company, employing 450,000 representatives in the U.S.

"The human bond is the essence of selling," she said.

As for product categories, Jung singled out skin care, which is expected to show an increase of more than 20 percent this year. The spark is expected to come from the Anew brand, which now exceeds more than $100 million in sales globally.

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