FIRMENICH CHAIR: Vernon Sankey has been elected chairman of Firmenich’s board of directors. He replaces Jean-Marc Bruel, who will retire from the role after an eight-year tenure. Sankey, who took up the chairman role Thursday, joined Firmenich’s board in 2006. He is also a member of the boards of Zurich Financial Services AG and Atos Origin SA. Bruel joined Firmenich’s board in 1995 and was named chairman in 2000. He was the firm’s first nonfamily chairman since Firmenich was founded in 1895. In other Firmenich news, the privately owned firm reported sales for the year ended June 30 hit 2.85 billion Swiss francs, or $2.52 billion at current exchange. That equates to a 13.5 percent increase in Swiss francs and an 18.4 percent hike in local currencies. Its perfumery division generated double-digit growth in the period. “In fine fragrance we achieved a robust sales progression and again posted the highest win rate for new market launches,” the firm stated.

The battle for Longs Drug Stores may be finally over. Walgreen Co. chief executive Jeffrey A. Rein issued a letter to Longs Drug Stores stating it was withdrawing its takeover offer of about $2.8 billion. The letter states Longs refused to “engage in a constructive dialogue.” Last month, Longs decided to accept a lower bid from CVS Caremark.

REGIS UP: Salon operator Regis Corp. posted first-quarter revenues of $680.2 million, a 1.9 percent increase from $667.5 million in the same period a year ago, as overall same-store sales slipped by 1.6 percent. Hair services accounted for the bulk of sales at the 13,500-unit chain, generating 70.3 percent of revenues, or $478.1 million, while product sales accounted for 28.1 percent of revenues, or $191.4 million. “Consumers are cutting back and as a result we are seeing a slowdown in spending and visitation patterns,” Paul D. Finkelstein, chairman and chief executive officer of Regis, said of effects of the economic environment on same store sales. He added that first-quarter earnings from operations are now expected to be near or slightly below the low end of the firm’s guidance range of 41 to 47 cents a share.

PIER 1 VENTURE: Pier 1 Imports Inc. is taking a bigger stride into beauty. The 1,100-store retailer, which began carrying a spa product line from Thailand called Prann a year ago and added a body care line from Israel called Nature’s Minerals in July, is poised to launch no less than five collections of bath and body care products and accessories for spring. The lines, which include monikers like Freesia, Seaside Mist and Pink Grapefruit, were unveiled during a press event at Gary’s Loft this week. Prices across the different lines range from $1.50 to $30, and the collections are slated to be launched during January, February and April.

L’Oréal is going back to school. The French beauty giant is sponsoring the law and business ethics masters degree at the University of Cergy-Pontoise, in France’s Val-d’Oise department. The program will begin in 2009. “It is the first diploma of its kind in Europe,” said Emmanuel Lulin, L’Oréal’s director of ethics and sponsor of the law and business ethics masters class of 2009. “Business ethics is a complex subject, which needs to be addressed with humility and determination. The global leaders of tomorrow are those companies who have integrated ethics into their strategic planning but also [into] their everyday business practices.” L’Oréal also supports the university’s law and business ethics chair, which was created in July 2007.

RAMOS DEBUT: Hairstylist Robert Ramos launched his namesake hair care line at the Estilo Salon in Los Angeles Monday night. Ramos’ Hollywood client list includes Jessica Alba, who attended the launch event with husband Cash Warren and actress Jaime King, and Bette Midler, whose tresses Ramos handles for her Las Vegas shows. Robert Ramos Products includes four, 8-oz. items: Daily Moisture Shampoo for $23, Daily Moisture Conditioner for $23, Spray Leave-In Conditioner for $25 and Volumizer for $31. Ramos called the Volumizer, which contains hydrolyzed algae and rice protein, the star of the initial selection. “It was important to me to have something that would give you body and volume, but wouldn’t beat up your hair,” he said. “The algae really seals the hair and protects it from environmental assault, and the rice protein gives you the texture and the body.” The line is sold at Estilo and, and Ramos expects it to generate $250,000 in first-year sales.

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