By  on April 3, 2009

LONDON — Michelle Feeney is glowing — and it’s not because of the plethora of self-tanning products she haphazardly tested on her arms earlier in the afternoon. The beauty executive is keyed up as she believes the overhaul of tanning brand St. Tropez, which she has spearheaded since 2007, is starting to deliver perceptible results.

“We’re a proper brand now,” Feeney said, gesturing to revamped product packaging and upcoming product launches. And the changes aren’t just visible. “When I first came to the brand I did a study and asked what were the issues we need to improve to make our products great for our customers,” she recalled. “Smell was one of the major drawbacks. It was a barrier to purchase.”

Last month, the Nottingham, England-based brand relaunched its lineup with pumped-up fragrance technology said to virtually eliminate the telltale odor associated with self-tanning products.

To banish the whiff, St. Tropez uses AromaGuard technology, developed by fragrance house CPL Aromas, which is said to diminish the smell emitted once products come into contact with the skin.

“Within the self-tan product, the tanning agent — DHA — reacts with the proteins and amino acids in the top area of the skin. Part of the reaction gives the brown color but also there are side reactions going on. Some side reactions give that distinctive meat-y or biscuit-y smell,” explained Tim Whiteley, global research and development director at CPL Aromas. “We were able to analyze and identify key molecules being generated and use AromaGuard technology to counteract the buildup of those materials.”

In addition, a fragrance blend was created including molecules that bind to receptor sites in the nose, which otherwise would accept malodorous ones. The scent comprises notes of iris root, fresh fruits and violet.

As reported, St. Tropez’s lineup is also sporting streamlined packaging featuring pared down graphics and simplified descriptors in addition to the new fragrance.

Product innovations are also meant to up the ante for the brand. Key items include Perfect Legs, which is sold as a double-barrel bottle comprising gradual self tanner in one chamber and an instant tanner in the other, the idea being the products can be used separately or in tandem. Sources estimate the item, which will retail at $41 at current exchange, will ring up retail sales in the region of $6.9 million in the U.K. in its first year. Other new launches include Everyday Mousse priced at $27.60; Body Butter selling for $20.70, and Shower Cream, which comes with a $13.80 price tag.

Makeup products are also in the pipeline for June. Priced at between $34.50 and $48.40, the lineup includes Bronzing Rocks, chunks of shimmering bronzing powder; Bronzing Mousse and Bronzing Powder. Sun protection products are also in the works for 2010.

St. Tropez, which generates annual retail sales of $69 million to $80 million, bowed in eight Nordstrom spas last month and is in the process of relaunching its U.S. and U.K. e-tailing websites. The brand will also make its QVC debut in the U.S. in April with two one-hour shows.

“It’s a huge litmus test for how the brand is going to succeed,” said Feeney.

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