By  on March 25, 1994

NEW YORK -- Having built a business on treatment and color cosmetics, the L'Oreal division of Cosmair Inc. is looking to broaden its horizons.

It will begin that quest in May with the launch of a new women's fragrance, V by Vanderbilt.

It will be L'Oreal's first foray into the fragrance category in nearly 10 years, and the company hopes it will be a stepping stone to a much larger U.S. presence.

John Wendt, senior vice president and general manager of the division, said the firm is considering the establishment of other fragrance brands.

"We are exploring the possibility of working with other licenses," Wendt said. "We are planning another fragrance entry for 1995."

While Wendt declined to disclose specific dollar figures, he said the division is shooting for a 16 percent increase in volume for 1994.

Industry sources estimated that last year the L'Oreal division had an 11 percent increase, reaching a total wholesale volume of $300 million. A 16 percent increase this year would give the division an estimated volume of $350 million.

"V is our signal to the industry that we are attending to this category with the same level of concern and detail of product imagery that we give to treatment and color," Wendt said.

V, which will be backed by $7 million to $8 million in advertising this year, is projected to have a wholesale volume of $30 million by 1995.

Vanderbilt, a women's fragrance launched in 1982 under the Gloria Vanderbilt license, has been the company's main fragrance focus for roughly a decade.

Sources estimated that last year, the brand had a wholesale volume of about $35 million. The company also markets the Ralph Lauren Chaps men's fragrance, which has an estimated $10 million in sales.

V will be aimed at active and sophisticated women who tend to prefer lighter and fresher scents than Vanderbilt, Wendt said.

"V certainly is hot," said Valerie Cheney, cosmetics and fragrance buyer for Happy Harry's Discount Drugs in Newark, Del. "They seem to be going after the right age group. If they continue to support it after the launch year, it should do really well."

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