Escada to Handle Gigli in U.S.

NEW YORK -- Escada Beaute Ltd. has become the new home in America for Romeo Gigli's fragrance business in a distribution deal that will be consumated this spring with the global launch of G. Gigli, a women's fragrance.<BR><BR>The new scent is aimed at...

NEW YORK — Escada Beaute Ltd. has become the new home in America for Romeo Gigli’s fragrance business in a distribution deal that will be consumated this spring with the global launch of G. Gigli, a women’s fragrance.

The new scent is aimed at consumers aged 18-to-34, a younger audience than the 30-to-50-year-old crowd that was the target for Gigli’s original women’s fragrance in 1989, according to Anna Taglioretti, export area manager of the Western Hemisphere for Proteo Profumi Spa, the Milan-based Italian fragrance licensee for Gigli.

The initial G. stands for Giovane, meaning young, as in the younger Gigli, according to the company.

The introduction of G. Gigli is also the first step in an aggressive new product campaign laid out by Proteo founder and president Arturo Ricci to build a house of fragrances under the Gigli banner.

As part of this plan, Proteo this fall will introduce a followup to its two-year-old men’s scent, which company executives admit has a narrow appeal.

In addition, a masculine version of this spring’s G. Gigli will appear next year, and a second women’s signature scent is in the works for 1996.

According to Ricci, Gigli’s first two fragrances had a worldwide volume last year approaching $40 million in 67 countries.

Proteo’s launch schedule is not only a blueprint for the future, but a means of providing a fresh start, particularly in the U.S., where the Gigli fragrances had been distributed by the now defunct H. Alpert & Co.

The Los Angeles-based Alpert, which filed for liquidation proceedings Nov. 9, had distributed the Gigli scents in the U.S. since 1990.

Ricci said Alpert did $7 million in Gigli business the first year and $12 million the second. But Proteo and Alpert then disagreed over direction, and no merchandise was shipped from Italy in 1993, Ricci said.

The company sees the advent of G. Gigli and a successor men’s scent as a way of cleaning the slate and starting over in the U.S.

“American retailers want newness,” said Lawrence Appel, president of Escada Beaute Ltd., the New York-based subsidiary of the German fashion and fragrance house. “We are going to use G. Gigli to generate excitement and regenerate quality for the company.”

Escada’s relationship with Proteo began in Paris last July, when the German company’s French affiliate became the distributor for Gigli in France and in European duty-free shops. Now the American subsidiary is picking up the franchise, not only for the U.S. but also for the Caribbean and South America. The Canadian market is handled by a separate company.

One reason for handling most of the Americas — instead of just the U.S. — is to maintain a tighter grip on the flow of merchandise, Appel noted.

“We will be able to control the quality of distribution to avoid problems of the past,” Appel said, stating that the prestige-priced Gigli had evidently leaked into the mass market.

“It was just a mess,” Appel said. “The product was everywhere. We are devoting 1994 to cleaning up distribution of existing lines.” The check on diversion will set the stage for G. Gigli in the U.S. as part of Proteo’s global rollout between April and June. Appel said he will focus the distribution on the top tier of stores — Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and I. Magnin — with a network of no more that 175 to 200 doors this year. His sales goal for this year is $5.5 million to $6 million at retail in the U.S., including all three fragrances but consisting mostly of G. Gigli.

Appel did not break out his advertising budget, but sources estimate the advertising and promotional support will amount to roughly $1.5 million for the year.

Although the launch plans have not yet been set, Appel said the strategy will follow a traditional specialty store fragrance launch — in-store selling personnel such as rotators, deluxe and carded vial fragrance samples, print advertising in a core of fashion magazines and “sparing” use of retail catalogs.

As for the rest of the hemisphere, Appel noted, “We are going to go very slowly outside the U.S.”

Distribution in the Caribbean this year may consist of one retail account on seven or eight islands and one or two countries in South America.

As for the product line, Ricci’s strategy in positioning designer fragrances is to aim the image high while holding prices to the upper middle market. The consumer, he said, will no longer swallow stiff prices in the name of prestige.

“It is very stupid to say that because my name is Chanel or Yves Saint Laurent, the consumer will pay a fortune for a fragrance,” Ricci said. “It is through.”

G. Gigli will consist of only three stockkeeping units — a 50-ml. pour, priced $32 at retail; a spray version for $35, and a 100-ml. spray for $50. The scent, which is called an eau de toilette, will have a stronger than usual concentration of 12 percent essential oil because, as Ricci said, “American women like strong fragrances.”

As a rule of thumb, eau de toilettes typically have a concentration of 8 percent, with an eau de parfum at 15 percent.

Ricci said he is considering introducing a 50-ml. spray perfume as a limited special edition a year after the launch as a way of offering the customer newness, perhaps as a special promotion at Mother’s Day.

The pricing of G. Gigli is lower than the 1989 women’s scent, Taglioretti said, noting that the original line had a 50-ml. eau de parfum splash for $45 and a spray version for $50.

The G. Gigli scent has a fruity green top note, with a floral mid-range and powdery woodsy base.

This year’s new men’s scent will use the same bottle as the original scent with a different color liquid and cap and different name. The price will also be 20 percent lower.