By  on May 5, 2008

Patrice Louvet, vice president of Global Hair Colorants for Procter & Gamble Co., has been named vice president, future strategy and growth, of Global Prestige Products.

Louvet will move from Stamford, Conn., to Geneva for the newly created role and will report to Hartwig Langer, president, Global Prestige Products.

Louvet will be succeeded by Alex Sabbag, currently marketing director for Pantene, hair colorants, Herbal Essences and conditioner for the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa Hair Care Global Business unit. Sabbag's new title will be general manager, Global Colorants Brand Franchise Leader. The changes will take effect July 2008.

— Andrea Nagel

Estée Lauder Goes Virtual

The Estée Lauder Cos. is aiming to raise fragrance sales by promoting the category in a virtual universe.

The beauty giant has teamed up with Facebook to tout its products in SuperPoke, a program on the social networking site. "Poking" is said to be one of the most viral activities on Facebook, with a reported 15 million users and an average 100 pokes per second.

This week, Facebook added a number of new virtual activities — which range from blowing kisses to throwing Easter eggs — to its lineup, and that's where Lauder comes in. A new "send message in a bottle" allows users to remind others that Mother's Day is imminent — and puts forth a list of Lauder-owned fragrances, such as DKNY Be Delicious, Tommy Hilfiger Dreaming and Island Michael Kors Capri, along with coupon codes and special gift offers. P&G, Fekkai Look to Future

Craig Bahner, Procter & Gamble's vice president and general manager for North American hair care, seems excited about the upmarket possibilities presented by the latest addition to his stable, Frédéric Fekkai.

On Thursday, the day P&G closed the previously announced acquisition, Bahner sketched out some thoughts on how Fekkai will fit into Bahner's flotilla, consisting of a collection of professional and mass market retail brands. "We have a strong presence in retail hair care," he said, "and a strong presence in professional. But we didn't really have a presence in the prestige segment."Bahner praised Fekkai for pioneering a position in the department store market for hair with a North American distribution of 3,579 doors. When asked about speculation that P&G will develop a Fekkai hair coloring line, Bahner said the company has not even begun to formulate product development strategy. But he said the firm definitely would continue to operate Fekkai's salon business as a source of authority and inspiration as well as a laboratory for product development. He said P&G is committed to the eight Fekkai salons already open and the ninth unit that is being planned for an October opening in the Neiman Marcus in Union Square in San Francisco. "But you will not see 500 Fekkai salons," he quickly added, stressing that P&G is not interested in being seen as a salon operator.

Fekkai, the founder of his company who has been named brand architect, said the eighth salon opened Wednesday in Greenwich, Conn., with a bumper crop of 34 appointments. By comparison, he noted, one of his Los Angeles salons previously opened with only three customers on the first day. "It's a great way to feel the pulse [of new product ideas] and what the customer wants done for her hair," he said, adding that it also creates new awareness.

Fekkai and P&G declined to discuss dollars. But in the past, the Fekkai business has been estimated at $100 million in sales volume for 2007. While the purchase also was not discussed, industry sources estimate that P&G may have acquired the brand from Catterton Partners for $300 million to $400 million.

The Fekkai product range includes a number of specialty-oriented subbrands, adding up to 89 stockkeeping units with prices ranging from $22 to $195.

— Pete Born

L'Occitane Checks in at Hilton

L'Occitane en Provence, which last month began rolling out its beauty products in specialty store distribution at Nordstrom, has reached an agreement with Hilton Hotels & Resorts to build spas at select locations within the hotel chain.

The first L'Occitane Spas at Hilton are expected to open during the fourth quarter of this year in San Francisco; Short Hills, N.J., and Waikoloa Village in Hawaii.L'Occitane Spas will open in newly built Hilton hotels and in converted spas and destination resorts, according to the hotelier, which estimated that it anticipates having 50 L'Occitane spas in Hilton hotels worldwide by 2011.

"L'Occitane brings expertise and world-class products that will allow Hilton to offer a consistent, luxurious spa experience for guests of our hotels around the world," stated Jeff Diskin, senior vice president of brand management at Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

— Matthew W. Evans

Sexy Hair Gets Girlicious

Sexy Hair Concepts, the Chatsworth, Calif.-based firm that's known for its volume-generating hair products, has signed pop music quartet Girlicious, whose members were selected on the CW reality show "Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious," to a two-year, multimillion dollar deal.

Sexy Hair will spend $3 million on print advertising this year, and images featuring Girlicious will change monthly for the next seven to eight months.

"The things the company is moving toward are youth, sexiness and diversity," said Jim Morrison, chief executive officer of Sexy Hair. "If you look at these four girls, it is sort of United Colors of Benetton. It was a natural fit and didn't take us long to make a decision."

The Girlicious deal follows a two-year partnership with "American Idol" star Katharine McPhee, who Morrison said helped Sexy Hair reach $250 million in retail sales last year. McPhee was the face for the brand Strong Sexy Hair, and Girlicious will front a product line catering to the ethnic market launching in August-September.

Additionally, Morrison indicated Sexy Hair is looking to purchase this year a company with less than $30 million in retail sales and next year another company with roughly $200 million in retail sales. "We would love to at some point have an organization that was closer to $1 billion than $250 million at retail," said Morrison. "We absolutely would like to find a couple of synergistic companies that function in the salon business."

— Rachel Brown

Unilever's Palm Oil Plan

By 2015, Unilever plans to use only palm oil that has been certified sustainable, the company announced last week.The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant said it will use certified palm oil as it becomes available in the second half of this year, and aims to ensure its supplies of the ingredient used in Europe are fully traceable by 2012.

The production of palm oil, which is used in cosmetics, food products and biofuels, has been blamed for causing the destruction of peatlands and rain forests in Southeast Asia, as land is cleared there to make room for plantations.

Unilever, which chairs the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, was picketed last month by Greenpeace activists protesting against its use of palm oil from Indonesia. Greenpeace also recently published a report titled "How Unilever Palm Oil Suppliers Are Burning Up Borneo."

— Brid Costello

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