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Worthington Expands U.S. Presence

NEW YORK -- Charles Worthington has landed a deal that will expand his hair care line to 1,000 Sav-on and Osco drugstores, rounding out Worthington's U.S. mass distribution base to 5,000 doors.<P>Beginning June 15, Sav-on and Osco, the drugstore...

NEW YORK — Charles Worthington has landed a deal that will expand his hair care line to 1,000 Sav-on and Osco drugstores, rounding out Worthington’s U.S. mass distribution base to 5,000 doors.

Beginning June 15, Sav-on and Osco, the drugstore divisions of Albertson’s, will begin making room for the colorful, fragrant line of hair care products, which includes Results, a broad-based collection; Big Hair, a volumizing line, and Take Aways, a trial-size line.

The privately held hair care company, which is headquartered in London, wouldn’t comment on annual sales figures, but data from Information Resources showed that the brand generated $6.1 million in U.S. mass sales last year. For the past two years, Worthington has been available exclusively in Walgreens’ 4,000 stores nationwide. Prior to that, Worthington was available only in Target stores. Dream, Worthington’s prestige hair-care offering, is sold in Bloomingdale’s and Sephora.

According to Ben Greer, marketing manager for Charles Worthington, U.S. sales have increased year over year since the brand first hit mass shelves here in 1999. “Two of our sku’s [Moisture Seal Shampoo and Super Conditioner] are in Walgreens’ top 25 HBA sku’s. At the end of 2000, our space in Walgreens doubled from three feet to six feet, and the next year doubled again to 12 feet, the same amount of space as Herbal Essences and Pantene.” Greer added that the company’s U.S. business doubled last year, and this year he expects it to triple, due to the new distribution.

The company’s U.K. business, which began in 1995, continues to flourish, Greer said. “Sales have at least doubled every single year.” Worthington is sold exclusively in 1,300 Boots the Chemist stores throughout the U.K. Dave Robinson, category manager for Boots’ hair care business, confirmed that the Worthington line excels in Boots stores, ranking as either the best- or second-best-selling hair care brand, along with John Frieda. When asked what would drive a consumer to choose Worthington over Frieda, Robinson said that the Worthington sku’s have outstanding packaging. “The packs are beautiful. What we push when [marketing the brand] is Charles’ background as an architect. It is what we genuinely believe really stands out” about the line, Robinson said.

Firm sales figures were not available for the company’s business abroad, but industry sources say that it is more than $70 million.

Greer attributes the brand’s current success — aside from being a premium product at a $6 price point — to media profiles of Charles Worthington, the English celebrity stylist who prides himself on being instrumental in the products’ final results. Retail partnerships, for a company that does not advertise, have also helped the brand generate sales. “Walgreens,” Greer said, “has showed their willingness to do something different. For example, they accepted in-house merchandising, they let us train their cosmeticians, they let us play a video of Charles styling hair in their stores and they put Charles’ `insider secrets’ in their circulars” to help promote the brand.

Greer also works with drugstore-chain buyers “to group premium brands together so consumers think there is a premium offering.”

One additional plan bringing the Worthington brand to the forefront is the first Stateside Charles Worthington salon, set to open in Manhattan by November.”