By  on April 11, 2008

L'Occitane, a brand that traditionally has been carried in its own freestanding stores, selected Sephora stores and independent boutiques in the U.S., is headed into the national department-specialty store channel.

L'Occitane Inc., the New York-based subsidiary of L'Occitane en Provence, which is based in Manosque-en-Provence, France, is rolling out the brand to more than 100 Nordstrom stores in a special assortment of about 40 products that's primarily made up of bath and body care items.

Merchandising units are expected to be fully installed at Nordstrom by June. The measure marks the brand's entry into this channel since it first launched in the U.S. in 1996.

"Two of the hottest categories in beauty are luxury skin care and natural or organic ingredients," said Debbi Hartley-Triesch, national beauty director at Nordstrom. "L'Occitane products target both of these key trends — and give our customers more options."

Depending on the Nordstrom location, merchandising displays will feature either a tower of L'Occitane products — including soaps, hand creams, body moisturizers, fragrances and exfoliators — or special display units that could potentially feature multiple hair care and makeup artist brands. Prices for L'Occitane at Nordstrom will range from $10 to $42.

"Nordstrom is known for establishing strong partnerships for its brands [and] we are known for having our own company stores — L'Occitane is not well distributed in the specialty store environment," said Christophe Amigorena, managing director of L'Occitane Inc.

Amigorena added, "A couple of months ago, we said, 'We should explore the brand for a different market.'"

This month, existing Nordstrom stores are receiving the L'Occitane items, which include a new face range called Shea & Organic Cotton.

The Shea & Organic Cotton line has reached L'Occitane's 164 U.S. stores and will arrive at Nordstrom as the retailer introduces the brand. Prices in the four-item assortment range from $22 to $38 and the line features a mask, cream, scrub and cleansing milk. The items could garner as much as $3.5 million in first-year retail sales.

All told, the new distribution at Nordstrom and new products combined are expected to drive sales of L'Occitane Inc. to about $125 million this year, according to industry sources.

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