By  on March 21, 2007

NEW YORK — L'Occitane en Provence, which developed a fragrance, home and body care brand called Le Couvent Des Minimes along with Limited Brands' Bath & Body Works division, plans to further expand its Le Couvent division by pumping up wholesale distribution of the brand this year.

Meanwhile, the L'Occitane brand is rolling out this spring Almond Apple, a skin care collection designed to prevent signs of aging in younger consumers. Additionally, in spring of 2008, L'Occitane plans to open a spa with Accor, the hotelier, in Mane, France.

Le Couvent, which was launched in 2005 at Bath & Body Works and C.O. Bigelow locations, was rolled out to Fred Segal and L'Occitane's O & Co. specialty foods location in Grand Central Terminal here last year. Now, Le Couvent is carried in 10 O & Co. locations, where it accounts for between 10 and 15 percent of the stores' business, and L'Occitane executives plan to expand the brand to department and specialty stores in the U.S. by next fall.

"Due to the brand's overwhelming success through the Limited partnership, we'd like to grow the business," said Dana Kline, executive director of Le Couvent Des Minimes. Kline, who joined the firm last month, was previously vice president of sales at Gary Farn Ltd. and regional sales director at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

International plans call for Le Couvent to be launched in Russia, Spain and parts of Asia by the end of this year. The brand has reached France's 295 Marionnaud stores, Australia's David Jones, Canada's Shoppers Mart and Jean Coutu, as well as stores in the U.K., since January. Such alternative retail venues like greenhouses and wineries could also be part of the wholesale distribution plan.

Le Couvent, an assortment comprising 49 stockkeeping units ranging in price from $10 to $28, is estimated to be worth $30 million, according to industry sources. Kline hopes to double the size of the business by the end of the year. Le Couvent contains several product ranges: Honey & Shea is meant to be nourishing, Lavender & Acacia is said to be relaxing and Verbena & Lemon is intended to be energizing. The best-selling Gardener's Hand Healer range, said to have healing benefits, is adding an exfoliating cleanser and nail and cuticle salve cream this month.

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