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August means the annual publication of the WWD Beauty Biz Top 100, a ranking of the world’s biggest beauty companies. A truly mammoth undertaking overseen by our European beauty editor Jennifer Weil, the Top 100 is an unsparing look at the year that was, based solely on sales figures. The 2009 edition demonstrates the impact of the economic recession in stark terms. Of the top 10 companies, only one—number three–ranked Unilever—posted a sales increase for the year. (In comparison, in last year’s Top 10, eight posted sales gains.) Others, including the top-ranked L’Oréal, reported their first loss in years. In all, 49 companies increased their sales in 2009, 47 suffered a decrease and four companies were flat compared with 2008, when 74 companies were up, 15 were down and 11 were flat. The total $140.78 billion in sales generated by the 100 companies combined was down 16.3 percent in 2009 versus 2008.
The news coming from the list isn’t all grim, however. Companies based in emerging markets, particularly Brazil, China and India, posted impressive growth rates. Many direct-sales companies around the world also weathered the storm, reporting sizable increases in their number of sales representatives and in overall product sales, including Brazil-based Natura Cosméticos, up 18.6 percent to claim the number-15 spot, and number-22 Peru-based Belcorp International, up 12.5 percent. The three companies on the list that are based in South Korea all fared extremely well—number-20 Pacific Corp., number-34 LG Household & Health Care and number-88 Able C&C posted increases of 20.7 percent, 9.5 percent and 79.1 percent, respectively. Discover who’s on top—and who’s not.
Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find an in-depth report on the beauty trends that emerged from the fall-winter couture shows in Paris. With only a handful of shows on the roster versus hundreds, couture is a much more intimate affair for makeup artists and hairstylists, a laboratory where they can explore ideas and concepts. For a look at the key directions to emerge from the season, turn to “Chic Week.” The couture runways featured an exuberant use of color, but one of the major trends to emerge during the fall-winter ready-to-wear shows was the return of the neutral makeup palette. Of course, the barely-there look is a staple of most women’s beauty repertoires. But what makes the trend particularly modern this season is the panoply of textures and tones present in the season’s offerings, resulting in a look that’s sultry, sculptural and, most of all, very sophisticated, as you’ll see in “The New Nude.”