By  on March 18, 1994

NEW YORK -- Bath & Body Works, The Limited's hottest division, is going down on the farm for its latest line of products for the tub.

In place of the chic European image of a typical spa line, the company is opting for a midwestern wholesomeness for the July launch of Health & Beauty Farm, according to Annette McEvoy, vice president and general manager of Gryphon Development.

Gryphon is the New York-based cosmetics manufacturing arm of The Limited, which has its headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.

"It's not a spa line," McEvoy said. "The idea is farm-fresh ingredients. Our own heritage in Ohio -- the farm heritage -- works better for us as a marketing concept."

Although Gryphon and Limited executives declined to discuss volume

projections for the Bath & Body Works business, industry sources estimated overall annual sales at $120 million in 1993 and said sales would double in 1994.

Sources estimated that Health & Beauty Farm will do 5 to 10 percent of the chain's sales, or about $12 million to $24 million at retail its first year.

Bath & Body Works is one of The Limited's hottest divisions, leading the company in profitability, with a 1993 rate of 15.5 percent, according to Harry A. Ikenson, a retail analyst with Mabon Securities.

In business less than four years, Bath & Body Works operates 190 doors and plans to open an additional 100 this year.

Health & Beauty Farm's 18 items use ingredients often associated with farms -- apples, milk and cornmeal, for example.

The Fresh Start Peel-Off Face Mask contains extract from grapefruit peel and orange blossom, while the Buttermilk Bath's components include milk and shea butter.

"Everything we did had to have good-for-you ingredients and not just an extract story," said Jennifer Balbier, Gryphon's product development consultant.

The packaging follows the down-home theme, with a rendering of a barn and fenced pasture on the label. The scents fall mostly in the edible-fruit category, such as golden apple, apricot and orange. Another is buttermilk.

The Health & Beauty Farm is divided into two groups of products: Private Time and On the Go. Executives said the groups' sales should be about the same.

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