By  on February 29, 2008

LONDON — St. Tropez is looking to secure a prominent place in the sun.

The self-tanning brand aims to become the global leader in its segment by expanding internationally, brushing up its prestige positioning and building on its product portfolio.

"I want to be the significant player in the luxury tanning market," said Michelle Feeney, who was named chief executive officer of St. Tropez in September, six months after British private equity group Lloyds TSB Development Capital took what it described as a "significant stake" in the firm. "We are already the number-one tanning product in the U.K. I want to be number one in the world."

The U.K., where the brand enjoys cult status, generates the lion's share of St. Tropez's sales. For the fiscal year ended July 31, it reported retail sales of 17 million pounds, or $33 million at average exchange, a 21 percent increase year-on-year. Product sales through mass and prestige retail channels represented 50 percent of that figure, while revenues generated through spas and salons accounted for 30 percent. Sales of professional tanning equipment make up the remainder.

Feeney's international strategy initially will focus on expansion in the U.S. and Nordic countries, as well as e-tailing through the brand's Web site, which will be relaunched in May. In the U.S. she plans to enter 600 high-end spas within two years and, in the longer term, to ink a retailing agreement with a nationwide department store chain. In Northern Europe, Feeney plans to introduce St. Tropez in 8,000 spas over the next two years. The brand also aims to enter Boots the Chemists' 21 stores in Dubai this spring. (St. Tropez is already sold in 1,500 Boots stores in the U.K.)

Feeney said she expects to at once increase the brand's availability while boosting its luxury positioning. "We want the brand image to evolve," she said. "It's iconic [in the U.K.], but it has stood still in a market which is moving very quickly."

To wit, streamlined St. Tropez packaging and an advertising campaign lensed by Solve Sundsbo will bow in May. With a refreshed brand image, Feeney hopes to raise the brand's profile within upper-tier stores in the U.K., including Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Selfridges. Upcoming novelties are also meant to create animation around the brand. In March, St. Tropez will introduce in the U.K. Rapide Face, a self-tanning cream billed to create a golden glow quickly, and Tan Intensifier, a moisturizer said to prolong tans. They will be priced at 18 pounds, or $35 at current exchange, for a 50-ml. tube, and 14.95 pounds, or $29.47, for a 150-ml. tube, respectively. Bronzing makeup products are also in the pipeline for next year.St. Tropez's product lineup comprises 12 stockkeeping units, ranging in price from 12 pounds, or $23, for a 240-ml. bottle of Body Moisturizer, to 30 pounds, or $59.14, for a 240-ml. pump bottle of Whipped Bronze Mousse. Sales of professional spa equipment also will be a key focus going forward, Feeney said.

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