Mercier Seeks Strategic Alternatives
NEW YORK — Gurwitch Products, which produces and markets high-end cosmetics under the Laura Mercier Cosmetics and Skincare line, has hired Financo Inc. as financial adviser to assist in a recapitalization or sale of the company.

"We are reviewing many global opportunities to continue to grow our business," said Janet Gurwitch, chief executive officer of Gurwitch Products, in a statement.

"My board and I believe we should explore all of the options available to maximize our potential," she added.

While strategic alternatives could include a recapitalization or possible sale, there are no assurances there will be a transaction.

Since its founding in 1995, Gurwitch Products LLC has grown into a company that produces and markets Laura Mercier cosmetics, skin care, bath and body and fragrance. The Laura Mercier brand is believed to generate between $60 million and $90 million in annual volume, according to a market source. The products are sold in more than 400 points of sale in 22 countries.

"We believe that Janet Gurwitch and her team have put together a global brand. This is a luxury, high-end brand, which we believe will be very attractive to both strategic as well as financial partners," said Gilbert Harrison, chairman of Financo.

One financial source who specializes in tracking luxury brands observed: "Some of the strategic players that are considered buyers include L'Oréal, Shiseido, Estée Lauder, Clarins and Elizabeth Arden. Also included as possible buyers are LVMH [Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton], Chanel, Yves Rocher, Limited Brands and Sisley."

The Laura Mercier business is 51 percent owned by The Neiman Marcus Group. The chain also has put its Kate Spade unit up for sale.
— Vicki M. Young and David Moin

Beyoncé Visits Robinsons-May
LOS ANGELES — A crowded department store, plenty of pushing and shoving and a virtual river of tears. What may sound like the quintessential holiday shopping experience was actually an appearance by Beyoncé Knowles at the Robinsons-May Lakewood Center store Sunday afternoon.

Knowles stopped by to promote her second fragrance for Tommy Hilfiger, True Star Gold, resulting in all the commotion, as 3,000 fans tried to catch a glimpse — or, better yet, a photo — of the superstar.Those who were among the first to obtain Knowles' autograph had lined up outside the store at 4 a.m. alongside hundreds of crazed fans who purchased the sweet, floral fragrance. As tearful as a number of attendees were, Knowles, heavily protected from the riled-up crowd by her massive security guard, named Shorty, said meeting fans left her emotional, too.

"I don't care how tired you are, something happens and you just want them to know how much you appreciate [their support]," she said. "People are so sincere."

The same could be said for Knowles, who signed autographs for more than an hour, and — despite a last-minute fashion crisis of lost luggage — looked casually chic in a brown embellished tunic with jeans and a pair of chocolate-colored Louis Vuitton pumps that were among her carry-on belongings.

She said the one thing she wished she could have worn was a pair of jeans from The House of Deréon, her clothing line. "I love the jeans. I wear them every day. I worked on those so hard."

While her "elegant" line, which she codesigned with her mom, Tina, will be launched in February, the budding designer might wait until the end of next year to show the collection in New York. "It's a lot of work, and I don't know if we have time," she said.

But, should she decide to show, she already has a couple of models in mind: her Destiny's Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. "Oh, I would love to [have them model]," she said. "They did [model her clothing line] on Oprah, and they were fierce!"

Now, Knowles, who appears in the upcoming "Pink Panther" film, is ready to show off moves of her own with her triple-threat role in the musical "Dreamgirls," for which she started rehearsing a month ago.

"The clothes and the lashes and the hair and everything is going to be so amazing," said Knowles, who listed Roberto Cavalli, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Marni as her favorite designers. But, she continued, more importantly, "For the first time, I'm like, ‘Wow.' I get to really act and play a real character and be funny and be sad and be vulnerable. So I'm happy."
— Jenny Sundel

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