By and and and and  on December 21, 2007

PARIS — 'Tis the season to be jolly for Europe's beauty retailers.

"We expect to end the year on a very positive note, with double-digit growth again on last year," said Catherine Bossom, buyer for perfumery and cosmetics at the U.K.'s Harrods department store, echoing many of the 14 beauty retailers representing 1,757 doors in France, the U.K., Ireland, Italy and Germany who were polled by WWD in the run-up to the holidays.

Executives who disclosed sales estimates said they expect to close 2007 with high-single- to low-double-digit gains despite transit strikes, storms and price reductions that have plagued European countries.

The current reports are all the cheerier, considering that these numbers are bucking a tough comparison with last year's holiday, when there was a moderate uptick from a decidedly soft Christmas 2005.

As in years past, fragrance rules the season. Among the scents launched in Europe this fall, retailers said standout performers include designer fragrances for women such as Emporio Armani Diamonds, Parfums Christian Dior's Midnight Poison, Gucci by Gucci, Prada's Infusion d'Iris, Daisy by Marc Jacobs, Hermès' Kelly Caleche, Paul Smith Rose, Yves Saint Laurent Parfums' Elle and Paco Rabanne's Black XS for Her.

Among the newbies for guys are Tom Ford for Men, Jil Sander Men, Narciso Rodriguez for Him and R.S.V.P. by Kenneth Cole. Other notables include the masterbrand Diesel Fuel for Life; niche scents, including Tom Ford's Private Blend, plus Christina Aguilera's celebrity fragrance, retailers said.

Of course, classics still take the gold. But there was a notable uptick in skin care sales this season, while business from pre-packaged gift sets — a perennial favorite — were down at some retailers, surprisingly.

"We can always be sure that the classics, such as Chanel No.5, will see an increase in sales in the last few months of the year," said Jeremy Seigal, managing director of The Perfume Shop, with 162 doors in the U.K. and Ireland.

Chanel No.5 topped the charts in Germany's Wir für Sie cooperative of 340 private perfumeries in September, October and November. It also came in first at Boots the Chemists in the last week of November, closely followed by the brand's Coco Mademoiselle scent.


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