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.The Private Time collection consists of more time-consuming, luxurious products, such as Mineral Springs Soothing Bath Salts and Shea Butter Hand and Foot Treatment.

"They all can be used with the bath ritual," McEvoy said.

On the Go is designed for quick-hit pampering with more shower-oriented products, McEvoy said. Its lineup, packaged in plastic tubes instead of Private Time's jars and glass bottles, includes Three Minute Avocado Mask and Revitalizing Gel for Tired Legs.

Health & Beauty Farm also includes soaps, exfoliators, moisturizers and hair conditioners. Price points range from $5.50 for the 7-oz. Buttermilk Body Soap to $15 for a 12-oz. jar of Nature's Response Body Cream.

Bath & Body Works tested the products in select doors for several months before deciding to roll out the line.

Other than offering gift sets, the store has not completed promotional plans for the Health & Beauty Farm introduction, McEvoy said.

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