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Lilly Pulitzer to Enter Fragrance Market

Lilly Pulitzer, known for colorful and bold prints, is hoping to find green in the scent market.

Lilly Pulitzer, known for colorful and bold prints, is hoping to find green in the scent market.

This story first appeared in the February 15, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The King of Prussia, Pa.-based bastion of preppy chic has signed a licensing agreement with Old Greenwich, Conn.-based PulsePoints LLC, which will bring Pulitzer-branded fragrances to stores this fall.

“We’ve wanted to do a fragrance for a long time,” said James Bradbeer Jr., president of Lilly Pulitzer. “It is an important move for the brand and we see it as our anchor in beauty. PulsePoints just got it. This is not a mass play. Being niche is in PulsePoints’ DNA, which made them the perfect partner for us.”

“There is a loyalty and a love of the Lilly Pulitzer brand that is so sincere in its customer base,” said Alison Farn, chief executive officer of PulsePoints, which is a joint venture between Gary Farn Ltd., the sales and marketing firm, and Mane, the fragrance and flavor supplier. “The brand is iconic and it has always been true to its vision — a fun, energetic celebration of the Palm Beach lifestyle. We’ve admired the brand for a long time as customers, and respect its core values.”

The aim is to create a wardrobe of scents for the initial launch, instead of following the industry norm of introducing one at a time. In addition to fragrances, product categories are expected to include bath, body and home items. “There are lots of fragrances out there, but we have such clarity in the brand and feel we can provide an authentic difference,” said Bradbeer. “Our job is to delight the customer, to be innovative. We’re not just in the basic business, so to do it like every one else doesn’t make sense. We come from a juice stand [where Pulitzer began the business in the late Fifties] and we are very much about clear, vibrant, beautiful colors and happy prints, and we plan to show that with the product assortment.”

The first fruits of the agreement are expected to enter Lilly Pulitzer’s 18 corporate-owned stores and 75 Lilly Pulitzer Via Shops (formerly Signature Stores), which are independent retailers with Pulitzer assortments of 90 percent or more, in November. Broader distribution is expected in spring 2009, likely to specialty stores, which carry the apparel line.

Both Farn and Bradbeer noted that the spring 2009 distribution strategy is not yet set. However, if the fragrance mirrors the apparel distribution, it could go into stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor. All carry the women’s apparel line.

Pulitzer first tiptoed into beauty with makeup bags in the summer of 2006, with designs by Janie Schoenborn, the former owner of Buzz by Jane Fox and now a Pulitzer executive. “That business has been strong since the start,” said Bradbeer.

The Pulitzer agreement is the second fragrance project for PulsePoints, which was formed last year. The first, Judith Leiber, hit counters in September.

“PulsePoints has been a great venture for us,” said Farn. “It strengthens Gary Farn Ltd. in the marketplace as a quality distributor of niche beauty products and allows us to build brands. That’s something Gary Farn has always done, but we now have a more active role in creating fragrances. We’re looking for opportunities which are unique and have a distinct positioning, as Lilly Pulitzer does.”

As Farn told WWD when PulsePoints was formed: “We’re thinking long-term. What’s best for Gary Farn — distribution, [which] changes, or having an equity relationship with a brand? This is a huge part of building our future.”

Lilly Pulitzer has several other licensed businesses. The company signed an eyewear deal with Kenmark Group in July and an innerwear license with Carole Hochman Design Group in May.