By  on December 29, 2011

PARIS — Irreverent French fragrance brand Etat Libre d’Orange has a new minority shareholder — diversified Hong Kong-based GoldSilk Holdings Ltd. — and a strategy in place for exponential growth.

It marks the first time GoldSilk, which entered Etat Libre d’Orange’s capital in October, has invested in a non-Asian company. Additionally, the move should allow the scent brand to increase its business fivefold in the next three years, said Etienne de Swardt, Etat Libre d’Orange’s founder, chief executive officer and majority shareholder.

He would not discuss sales figures, but industry sources estimate the brand today generates annual net revenues of 1 million euros, or $1.3 million at current exchange.

GoldSilk operates in numerous business sectors, including tobacco, hotels and travel retail. One of its small subsidiaries is involved in distributing fragrances for Fragonard and Hello Kitty in Asia through the travel retail channel.

Olivier Mariotti has also recently­ ­become the managing partner of Etat Libre d’Orange’s international markets.

“Etat Libre d’Orange is more or less entering a kind of 2.0 development,” said de Swardt of his five-year-old company. “I think it’s a good time to move the brand into a higher level of visibility.”

Looking ahead, de Swardt said he wants to maintain the high quality of materials used in his fragrance formulas.

Today, Etat Libre d’Orange is sold in about 20 countries through some 300 doors, of which fewer than six are in the U.S. Company executives plan to keep the distribution selective but extend it to a minimum of 500 doors.

Geographically speaking, Etat Libre d’Orange is expected to launch in South America and widen its base in Asia, where it has just six points of sale (none of which is in Japan). And discussions are under way in the Middle East, according to de Swardt.

In some markets, less provocative scents (such as Tilda Swinton’s Like This, Jasmin et Cigarette and Rien) could be emphasized.

However, overall for Etat Libre d’Orange, whose portfolio also includes scents such as Secretions Magnifiques (or Magnificent Secretions, in English) and Putain des Palaces (or Whore of the Palaces), “the idea is to keep the craziness and enfant terrible attitude,” said de Swardt.

Among upcoming projects for Etat Libre d’Orange is a fragrance with singer Justin Bond, plus line extensions, including limited editions, for existing scents.

Other changes for the brand include the recent purchase of its flagship on 69 Rue des Archives in Paris’ Third Arrondissement, which is expected to be renovated in June.

“The idea is to open two or three other boutiques within two or three years,” said de Swardt, adding those could be abroad.

A simplified, updated Etat Libre d’Orange Web site is to go live in January, and 100-ml. bottles will in May be added to the line, which now comprises only 50-ml. versions. Embossed on all the glass flacons will be the company tag line, “Le parfum est mort, vive le parfum” (or ­fragrance is dead, long live fragrance).

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