By  on June 24, 2005

NEW YORK — The latest French import isn't wine or cheese, it's luxury skin care brand Lierac Paris, which just found its way into Duane Reade's SkinFitness Centres.

Lierac, a 30-year-old global skin care brand owned by The Ales Group USA, joins Avene, Vichy and Eucerin in the 100- to 200-square-foot Centres, of which there are four in total, all in Manhattan. Lierac is sold internationally and generates $100 million in sales, according to Ales Group USA president Eric Domel. It hadn't been offered in the U.S. until last week when the brand entered Duane Reade.

"We were looking to add more brands. It seemed like a good fit," said Tim Labeau, senior vice president of merchandising for Duane Reade. More importantly, Lierac rounds out the Centre's offering as a line that uses plant extracts and aromatherapy as the basis of its formulations to treat specific skin care problems, such as dry skin, wrinkles, sensitive skin, hyperpigmentation and cellulite.

In addition to shaking up the product mix, Lierac ups price points in the Centre to as high as $89, which is the price for Coherence antiaging products for the face and neck. They contain collagen III to help firm, smooth and moisturize the skin.

"That makes it complimentary, not a me too," said Labeau.

There are 46 products under the Lierac brand. Within Lierac is Thekoa, a product line that marries plants and aromatherapy in Mediterranean-type treatment oils. Thekoa uses glass bottles and ornate designs on its containers — some of which take up a full facing on a box — an esthetic rarely seen on American products. Thekoa oils retail for about $55 to $65 each.

Eight eye treatment products are available, too. Most notable is the Diopticreme Anti-Wrinkle Cream, which is formulated with horsetail, prune, ivy and alchemilla. It retails for $34.

One of the newest Lierac products — just launched in France — is Ultra Body Lift 10, a body contouring gel targeting cellulite. The gel contains aspartame and 10 percent caffeine as its active ingredients. It retails for $45.

Domel plans to support Lierac's U.S. launch with a 2006 print advertising campaign in high-end beauty magazines, such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. Ads will portray Lierac's positioning of bringing luxury into the world of the pharmacy.To make room for Lierac's large range of products Labeau simply condensed existing lines, some of which are merchandised adjacent to the Centre, such as Goody hair care products. Depending on a Centre's location, Labeau turned promotional endcaps into permanent Lierac displays. The Centres can be found at Duane Reade stores located at 773 Lexington Avenue, 535 Fifth Avenue, 1 Penn Plaza and 625 Eighth Avenue.

Labeau said the introduction of Lierac has already exceeded expectations. He would not comment on sales estimates, but Domel said Lierac looks to generate $1 million in U.S. sales in 2005. By year-end 2006, that figure looks to jump to $5 million, according to Domel. However, those sales figures will not be generated solely by distribution in Duane Reade. Domel said he just finished solidifying Lierac's entry into 30 Brooks Eckerd Pharmacy stores in the fall. Domel is also in conversations with CVS. But he maintains he will not grow the brand too quickly in the U.S.

"Our line deserves for us to take care of it. We are going with a baby-step policy for the long term. It's not big distribution we are looking at. We want to work closely with our partners," Domel said.

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