By  on April 15, 1994

ATLANTA -- Southeast retailers reported strong gains in the men's fragrance business, with sales being driven by new launches and a growing willingness among men to try new products, including those with treatment properties.

At Rich's, men's fragrances have shown high, single-digit gains this spring, with similar increases projected through the year, according to Pat Joyce, vice president, divisional merchandise manager.

"Newness, treatment and new items are driving business," she said.

Rich's launched Ralph Lauren's Polo Sport in January, in conjunction with the Super Bowl, which was held in Atlanta. Other launches have included Aramis's Lift Off treatment item and Chanel's Egoiste Platinum.

All three are meeting or exceeding plan, said Joyce.

"Lift Off took off very fast and has become well accepted, as have the treatment products in Polo Sport," she said, adding that Lift Off now represents between 25 and 30 percent of the total Aramis business at Rich's.

"Women's treatment has been explosive, and we've been surprised but pleased to see that men's products are becoming accepted," added Joyce. "Baby boomers are aging, and they're open to the idea of something to keep them youthful looking. It's a trend we can ride for several years, as other vendors introduce products."

Joyce said that the fact that products have been introduced as items, rather than complex regimens, had boosted sales.

"It's a 'problem-solution' approach that makes sense to men," she said.

Best-selling lines at Rich's, Joyce noted, include Calvin Klein's men's versions of Eternity, Obsession and Escape, Aramis, Polo Sport, Ralph Lauren's Safari and Lancaster's Davidoff Cool Water.

Joyce added that Rich's uses newspaper and direct mail advertising, and is negotiating with a unspecified vendor to coproduce a television infomercial set to air later this year.

At Proffitt's, a 25-store chain based in Alcoa, Tenn., comparable-store business increased 18.4 percent this spring, with 20 percent gains projected for the remainder of 1994, according to Judy Ivens, divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics.

In some stores, Proffitt's has instituted dual locations for men's fragrances, both in cosmetics departments and in the men's accessories area.

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