By  on September 18, 2009

FLORENCE — Executives at beauty trade show Fragranze said Europe’s niche beauty industry remains resilient in the shaky economic picture.

Pitti Immagine’s seventh edition of the event, which ran Sept. 11 to 13, accommodated 160 brands (up from 110 brands in 2008) in a new, cavernous space: Florence’s old train station, Stazione Leopolda. Visitor numbers were up 35 percent from last year to 1,700, and Fragranze’s last day was open to the public.

Many of the distributors, creators and retailers that attended the show forecast a sunny close to 2009.

“Customers are coming back to what is real, especially in cosmetics and fragrance, and that’s where we as a particular beauty industry have something to offer them,” said Celso Fadelli, chief executive officer of HI Intertrade Europe. He added, “We are enjoying the effect it’s having on our market.” Fadelli’s company expected a 10 percent gain in turnover for 2009. The firm bolstered exports to 40 countries this year, and exports now total 55 percent of the company’s total turnover of 10 million euros, or $14.7 million at current exchange.

HI Intertrade Europe’s portfolio includes 20 beauty brands. At Fragranze, the firm launched The Hype Noses, its own line of candles crafted from vegetable wax. The candles have a thick wooden wick, which when burns, crackles like a wood fire.

“It’s a multisensorial product and that’s what we aim to do elicit, an emotion from the consumer,” said Fadelli.

Alessandro Gualtieri, the nose behind the fragrance collection Naso Matto, spoke to visitors at HI Intertrade Europe’s stand about his creations. Gualtieri, who resides in Amsterdam, recounted how it took him three-and-a-half years to come up with his latest launch, Black Afgano, which is inspired by hashish.

Eau d’Italie founders Marina Sersale and Sebastián Alvarez Murena were also at Fragranze. Among new projects in the works for their fragrance brand are a floral scent expected to be launched next spring, a line of candles and a packaging redesign that features more luxurious details, according to Alvarez Murena. Eau d’Italie recently expanded distribution to Australia and France.

“We are surging ahead for 2010,” said Alvarez Murena.

Bakel, a skin care line formulated with pure active ingredients and without petrochemicals or sulfates, attended Fragranze with Italian distributor Tekmind. Bakel founder Raffaella Gregoris said the line was recently launched in the U.S. where it will be exclusive to 14 Space NK stores for 18 months.

“We are excited about the prospect of working with them as they are giving us the space to explain the product,” said Gregoris. The 10-item line of antiaging fluids and cleansers is to also roll out to 60 Space NK stores in the U.K. beginning in February. Gregoris added Bakel’s sales have increased by four times since its launch last October.

Tekmind represents five beauty brands in Italy and Monte Carlo, including Perricone MD and Glominerals. President Salvatore Di Salvo said the Italian market has embraced selective beauty brands because “women like to have beauty products explained to them and, with these sort of products, there is a story to tell.”

Exhibiting at the show for the first time was retailer and distributor Guido Wetter. Wetter is owner of Profumo, a niche perfumery located in Milan’s Brera district, and is also developing a niche beauty distribution firm, called Profumimport. For Fragranze, Wetter hosted three perfumers behind brands distributed by Profumimport in Italy: Monia di Orio, Andy Taur and Olivier Durbano.

“Both businesses are growing,” said Wetter, who added, “I make a point to really know my clients, and I understand how to advise them from having my own store.”

Wetter said Fragranze’s success reflected the industry’s bright outlook.

“The day open to the public was fantastic, people talked to the perfume creators in our stand and really discovered their fragrances — that’s a wonderful thing for our sector.”

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