By  on December 12, 2006

GOOD RIDDANCE TO 2006: Revlon will likely breathe a heavy sigh of relief when the ball drops in Times Square on New Year's and wearily wave goodbye to a tumultuous year.

The year started with gusto: Revlon introduced a new cosmetics brand for older women called Vital Radiance and revealed plans to elbow its way back onto department store fragrance counters with a bold, new scent called Flair.

By midsummer, both plans had fallen flat. Vital Radiance's hefty price tags and wrinkled spokeswomen failed to inspire sales, and retailers responded by trimming its display space. Revlon also pulled the plug on Flair a month before its debut.

As Revlon's troubles mounted, industry pundits and Wall Street analysts began whispering that the company's primary owner, Ronald Perelman, might call for a change in leadership.

Sure enough, the call came, and after a four-year effort to turn around Revlon, Jack Stahl left the beauty firm's top post. He was immediately replaced by chief financial officer David Kennedy.

The new chief executive officer took swift action to cut costs, axing Vital Radiance and jettisoning 250 employees, including the bulk of Stahl's management team.

But Revlon's missteps throughout the year had already taken their toll. The beauty firm's net losses for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 swelled to $100.5 million from $65.4 million in the prior-year period. The Vital Radiance fallout is expected to result in a full-year impact of $100 million, according to the company.

A former Revlon employee who worked for the firm in the Nineties recently commented, "I just don't see the light at the end of the tunnel." Industry sentiment aside, Kennedy, presiding over his first earnings call, declared, "We believe our organization is in a good position to propel profitable growth as we go forward."

To aid in its recovery, Revlon tapped comeback phenomenon Sheryl Crow, who gracefully weathered a split with fiancé Lance Armstrong and underwent breast cancer surgery this year, to front its upcoming hair color product called Colorist. Revlon's banking on Crow's bravado to rub off on the company.

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