By  on June 10, 1994

NEW YORK -- The mass market fragrance business is developing a French accent.

Rather than commit the major investments needed to create new brands, several fragrance manufacturers are entering into agreements to oversee the U.S. distribution of scents from France.

Although many of the brands might get lost in the highly promotional and crowded department store arena, the firms are hoping the mass market, less cluttered of late, is ripe for a European invasion.

Several of the scents have matured overseas and their French owners are seeking a new life in America.

In addition, the mass market has been dry. Last year, with the exception of several items from Coty, few new scents were launched. Buyers for mass outlets are seeking something to fill the void.

Here are some of the details of the French immigration:

The Fragrance Market Group of Miami has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to the Jacques Bogart scents. The line includes Ted Lapidus, which has a worldwide volume of $40 million, and Bogart, with $22 million in worldwide sales.

Retailers such as Drug Emporium and F&M are already selling the items. FMG also distributes the European brands Ombre Rose and Maja.

French Fragrances Inc., also of Miami, has secured the North American rights to more than a dozen French scents, including Watt, Cafe and Quartz. Priced in the $7.99-to-$11.99 range, the items fit the niche between diverted prestige scents and knockoff brands.

Atlantis International Ltd. of West Hempstead, N.Y., is marketing Je Reviens, the lead brand from the House of Worth, in the mass market.

Art' Fleurs, men's and women's scents with prices in the $20-to-$30 range, will be on counters in August. The U.S. distributor for Art' Fleurs is European Creations, based in Oak Park, Mich.

Jean Philippe Fragrances signed an agreement with Parfums Molyneux and Parfums Weill three months ago to distribute their brands.

"There is a place in the market for well-known brands that can be sold at full margins and acquired on a direct basis," commented Bruce Elbilia, executive vice president for Jean Philippe.

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