FALL LOOKS SOLID IN NEW YORK AFTER A SALES SURGE IN THE SPRING

Byline: SOREN LARSON

NEW YORK--While Calvin Klein's CK One is still the locomotive pulling along fragrance sales here, a host of new women's fall launches, especially Estee Lauder's Pleasures, is expected to help drive gains for stores.
At Saks Fifth Avenue, divisional merchandise manager Deborah Walters said women's fragrance sales have been on track to register gains in the "low teens through the end of the year."
"We're very pleased with the category, especially after two consecutive years of having gains in the 20s," she said. "And we have a wonderful program of exclusives for the fall that will help us keep up the pace."
Jane Scott, vice president and divisional merchandise manager at Bloomingdale's, said her store's fragrance business has been "spectacular."
"It's been wonderful--we had a 'mega' spring season," she said, noting the category showed gains "in the high double digits."
She would not divulge numbers, but sources estimate the store's fragrance sales were up at least 25 percent over 1994 figures.
Among the exclusive launches expected to drive fall sales at Saks, Walters said, are Compar's XS Pour Elle by Paco Rabanne, Cartier's So Pretty, Escada's Acte 2 and Tiffany's Trueste, which is "meeting its plan" after a few weeks on the shelves. The store will start selling the new Hermes fragrance, 24 Faubourg, before Christmas.
This spring, Saks was the exclusive launch pad of the Italian brand Eau de Murano, along with the signature Bulgari and Bulgari Eau Parfumee. Walters said Murano ended up in the top 10 in the spring rankings, while both Bulgari scents shot into the store's top five.
"CK One is definitely still a major player. It's not slowing down," Walters added. "It fills a nice niche."
Rounding out the women's top 10 for spring at Saks were, in no particular order, the Annick Goutal brands, Thierry Mugler's Angel, L'Eau d'Issey by Issey Miyake, Donna Karan New York, Jean Paul Gaultier, the Chanel fragrances, Tiffany and the Cartier stable.
"The basic trends we're looking at are a resurgence in the classics and strong performances by brands that are in exclusive and limited distribution," said Walters.
She noted some older brands, such as Chanel No. 5, have been showing sales increases "of as much as 40 to 60 percent. And [Guerlain's] Shalimar is up in the high teens."
Walters cited Bal e Versailles and First by Van Cleef & Arpels as among resurgent brands of a certain age.
At Bloomingdale's, last fall's launch of CK One is still reverberating.
"CK One clearly continues to drive the business," Scott said. "We've also had terrific strength in our new brands."
She cited Adrienne Vittadini's AV, L'Eau d'Issey, Gaultier, Realm, Acqua di Gio, Dolce & Gabbana and Boucheron's Jaipur as among the new or newly rolled out brands that stand out.
On the men's side, Tommy Hilfiger's Tommy, Donna Karan's DK Men, Realm Men, Joop's Nightflight and Halston's Catalyst for Men lead the pack of recent introductions.
"Realm has been terrific on both the men's and women's sides," Scott said of the pheromone-based scent from Erox.
Bloomingdale's has also enjoyed "incredible growth with the classics," Scott said. "Chanel No. 5 is up over 25 percent. Beautiful is up double digits. Tiffany is strong; Shalimar and Opium are strong.
"It relates to a strategy we have that we call 'new and protect,"' Scott continued. "It's important to maximize the business of a new brand, but this is not mutually exclusive with building the older brands. I'm not one to launch and leave."
For spring, the top women's brands at Bloomingdale's, in no particular order, were CK One, Donna Karan New York, Chanel No. 5, AV, L'Eau d'Issey, Boucheron, Beautiful, Tresor, Angel, Tiffany, Eternity and Safari.
The leading men's scents were Polo Sport, DK Men, Eternity for Men, Tommy, Safari for Men, Aramis, Polo, Escape for Men, Armani and Cool Water.
Pleasures holds the most potential among upcoming women's launches, followed by Trueste, Bulgari and Lancaster's Sculpture, Scott said.
"Pleasures should end up in the top five," she noted. "I would be shocked if it didn't."
The fragrance was just hitting Saks shelves at press time and is expected to do great things through the fall, Walters said. "It's the launch of the season, no question. And I think it will be [Lauder's] number one fragrance."

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