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Penney Ready to Cultivate Earth Preserv in Bath

NEW YORK -- Intent on building its bath shop concept, J.C. Penney Co. is launching a line of eco-friendly products called Earth Preserv.<BR><BR>Ann Gravseth, merchandise manager for cosmetics and accessories at Penney's, said the line will be launched...

NEW YORK — Intent on building its bath shop concept, J.C. Penney Co. is launching a line of eco-friendly products called Earth Preserv.

Ann Gravseth, merchandise manager for cosmetics and accessories at Penney’s, said the line will be launched in about 600 doors on Earth Day, April 22. Penney’s carries cosmetics in about 650 of its 1,350 doors.

“It will definitely be one of the top three or four lines in the bath shop,” Gravseth said.

Penney’s will have a one-year department-store exclusive on the line, according to Keith Waldon, chief executive officer of Earth Preserv, the line’s manufacturer in Irving, Tex. Waldon said he expects Earth Preserv’s first-year retail sales to hit $10 million.

In addition to selling in Penney’s, Earth Preserv will offer the bath, body and hair line via an informercial, also slated to premiere April 22. The infomercial, which will run nationwide on cable TV, will inform viewers that the products can be purchased at Penney’s, as well as through a toll-free telephone number.

Gravseth said Earth Preserv will be the first infomercial to be tagged with Penney’s name.

Earth Preserv is being positioned as an all-natural unisex line — with no synthetic dyes, fragrances or preservatives.

The lack of synthetics has given the shampoo less of a lather than most brands offer.

“It’s still great-looking stuff and great-smelling stuff and a whole lot healthier for the body and the environment,” Waldon said, adding that a thick lather does not mean a product cleans better.

“The total naturalness of Earth Preserv is going to be a big boon and is going to add uniqueness to our bath shop,” Gravseth said.

Earth Preserv consists of nine products: body cleanser, face and body moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner — each priced at $9.50 for an 8.8-oz. bottle and at $20 for a 22-oz. bottle; a cream soap and glycerin soap each priced $11 for a package of three 4.5-oz. bars; an 8.8-oz. bottle of bath crystals at $7; a 24-oz. glycerin brick, which can be cut into smaller soaps, retailing for $15, and a 4-oz. sunscreen with SPF 10 for $8.

Except for the sunscreen, each product is available in four scents: Spring Petals, Summer Nectar, Autumn Woodlands and Winter Snowmelt.

The line also includes refillable glass jars that affix to shower walls at $39.50 with chrome trim and $49.50 with brass.

In addition to Penney’s and the infomercial, Waldon said Earth Preserv’s distribution may include some bath shops, environmental stores and hair salons, as a way of rolling out the line without competing with Penney’s.

Shot in the Pacific Northwest, the 30-minute infomercial features a male host hiking through the forest and along the beach, carrying a walking stick and a backpack. Waldon said this budget for the infomercial will be $5 million to $10 million this year, depending on the results it gets. Most of that outlay is the cost of air time.

Earth Preserv’s eco-friendliness extends to its packaging. Since only a small percentage of plastic is recycled, Waldon said, he chose aluminum for the line.

The company will donate 5 percent of gross sales to the Earth Preserv Society for environmental cleanup projects and education, Waldon said. Consumers will automatically qualify for “membership” in the society and receive cards entitling them to periodic discounts on the products and special values at the hotels that use the Earth Preserv line.