By  on April 10, 2009

Against the backdrop of a melancholy financial scene, Cosmoprof’s organizers in Bologna unveiled a revamped trade show that was buoyed by the state of the local beauty market, both in domestic consumption and exports.

“The Italian market has remained strong in a crazy economical situation,” said Fabio Franchina, president of Unipro.

According to Unipro, the Italian beauty industry recorded 1.2 percent growth in 2008 to hit a volume of 8.34 billion euros, or $11.07 billion. Exports, too, are on the rise, growing 2.1 percent last year to hit a turnover of 2.31 billion euros, or $3.06 billion.

Franchina also noted domestic consumption grew 0.8 percent to 9.07 billion euros, or $11.95 billion. “Beauty is important to the Italians and they don’t want to cut back,” Franchina added.

Predictably, attendance was down at the 42nd edition of the four-day show, which ran from April 2 at the Bologna fairgrounds. Visitors to Cosmoprof totaled 139,523, 7.5 percent less than 2008. Foreign buyer numbers suffered a dramatic decline of 14.9 percent over 2008 to 33,338 foreign visitors and Italian attendee numbers waned to 106,125, 4.8 percent less than last year’s figure.

The first day, when only the Cosmopack section was open, a 19 percent rise in visitors was recorded, however, said Aureliana De Sanctis, chief executive officer of Sogecos, the fair’s organizers. De Sanctis added exhibitor numbers, at 2,248, were up 3 percent on 2008’s figure. “We sold 91,000 square meters of space,” she said. “It’s like a big city of beauty.”

De Sanctis said 60 percent of the visitors during the first two days were from abroad, singling out the number of buyers from Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina. It wasn’t all good news, however. “We have a reduction in the number of buyers coming from the U.S.,” she admitted.

After overhauling the fair’s look last year, Sogecos tweaked the formula further. The changes elicited a mixed reaction.

“It’s a lot quieter than I expected,” said Martin Trout, export manager for the Middle and Far East, Latin America of Morris Profumi.

“There’s a lot less exhibitors in here,” he added, referring to the Perfumery & Cosmetics section. His firm was showcasing the last installment in La Perla’s J’aime fragrance masterbrand, J’aime La Nuit. Trout said La Perla’s four J’aime scents helped the brand grow by 50 percent in sales last year.

Among the historic exhibitors absent from Cosmoprof’s Perfumery & Cosmetics area was Deborah cosmetics.

“I decided to not put Deborah here this year,” said Malcolm Kemp, export director of the Deborah Group. “That’s not only due to the economic situation — the show is losing its wow factor.”

That being said, Kemp did unveil Debby, a color line with revamped graphic black and hot pink packaging aimed at young women, at the fair. Already sold in 1,200 Italian and 500 French doors, Debby will be rolled out to another 18 countries by the end of 2009, said Kemp. “Retailers are really enthusiastic about it and we have had good sell-through in the past few months, so I want to build it up to be 25 percent of our international business,” he said.

Deborah’s sales hit $150 million last year, an increase of about 12 percent, which Kemp attributed to international growth.

Bottega Verde also came to Cosmoprof looking to build distribution. “We have a strong European presence, but being at Cosmoprof is to help us extend our presence in the Far East and Latin America,” said Stefano Alloisio, export manager of Bottega Verde. The brand has 380 stand-alone stores in 12 countries and an estimated 162 million euros, or $214 million at current exchange, in annual sales. It launched Talasso, a five-stockkeeping-unit line of anticellulite body products formulated with seawater.

Bottega Verde’s success represents one of the fastest-growing trends in Italy: the rise of the erboristeria, or herbal store, category. Led by Bottega Verde and L’Erobolario, the channel had an increase of 3.8 percent last year, Franchina said. “People are moving towards natural products.”

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