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.

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