By  on May 6, 1994

NEW YORK -- Kenzo is finally coming to America.

The Paris-based firm, whose three scents posted a global wholesale volume of around $50 million last year, will undertake a full-fledged U.S. fragrance launch for the first time in August with Parfum d'Ete.

Parfums Givenchy will handle U.S. distribution of Parfum d'Ete, a women's scent launched in Europe in 1992. Givenchy will also be in charge of the upcoming introductions of Kenzo's signature fragrance, which was launched in 1988; Kenzo Pour Homme, launched in 1991, and a third women's scent slated for a European introduction later this year.

Givenchy and Kenzo are both owned by French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

"Kenzo is a major player in France and has become a solid niche marketer worldwide," said Robert Brady, president of Parfums Givenchy's U.S. branch. "But they also never felt they were quite ready to come here. It's very expensive to get started in the U.S. because it's such a large and diverse market, and it's more difficult to make a typical customer profile.

"Givenchy has shown the ability to launch new fragrances well and profitably -- Amarige was profitable from year one," continued Brady. It was launched here in 1992.

"LVMH has the confidence to put the resources behind this venture," he added.

Those resources are vast. LVMH acquired 25 percent of the Kenzo fashion and fragrance businesses last May, and took over the rest in June, paying a total of $82 million. The company also owns the Christian Lacroix and Christian Dior fashion and beauty businesses and acquired Guerlain SA last month for $343.5 million in stock. (See related story, page 8.)

"There is a lot of backing now, yes," said Pierre Broc, president of Tamaris-Parfums Kenzo, the fragrance subsidiary of Kenzo SA. Broc reports to Jean Courtiere, president of Parfums Givenchy.

"But our main benefit will be from using Brady and his team because they have expertise in this market, which we did not have," he said. "We're going to use Givenchy's sales force, but the rotators will be for Kenzo only.

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