Clarins Lands ITF Brands
NEW YORK — Clarins Fragrance Group will begin distributing ITF fragrances in the U.S., starting Jan. 1.

Lodi, Italy-based fragrance marketer ITF SpA has partnered with Clarins Fragrance Group here for Clarins to immediately "provide sales and marketing support to the existing ITF USA subsidiary," the companies jointly stated Thursday. Following a second-half transition period, Clarins will officially take over brand management, marketing and distribution for ITF's Roberto Cavalli, Gianfranco Ferre and Romeo Gigli fragrances on the first of the year.

The five-year pact with ITF is a boon for Clarins, given that Procter & Gamble will officially take over at yearend U.S. distribution of its Giorgio, Hugo Boss, Jean Patou, Lacoste and Valentino fragrances, a business that is handled by Clarins.

"With the changes we announced last year with regard to P&G, we've been very receptive to talking to people around the world about opportunities," said Ben Gillikin, president of Clarins Fragrance Group. "It's a natural fit," he said of the ITF deal. "We are very French in our portfolio with Azzaro, Thierry Mugler and Stella Cadente. To have [another] European business complements our portfolio."

Clarins has slated Cavalli and Ferre fragrance launches for the first half of next year.

The ITF-Clarins deal effectively dissolves ITF USA, which was established here in August 2002. Sharon Connelly, vice president and general manager of ITF USA, asserted that ITF USA was prevented from reaching its full distribution potential by market conditions, such as retail consolidation, and a lack of available large brands that ITF might distribute. Connelly said that she had suggested a possible deal with Clarins to management.

"My team here has done a terrific job," said Connelly. "They are so hard-working and dedicated, but [the operation was] too small to be able to fight to get to the top in the U.S., to get critical mass," she candidly added. "We could have been a distributor ourselves but did not have the infrastructure."

Citing Clarins' "strength" with its Mugler and Azzaro businesses, Connelly thought putting ITF's brands into Clarins' hands was the right step. "For the sake of the brands, something had to be done," she remarked. Praising Gillikin's integrity and his personnel, Connelly said, "It's a perfect fit for the long-range plans of the ITF brands."
— Matthew W. Evans

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