By  on December 8, 2006

GENEVA — Procter & Gamble Prestige Products can now lay plans for an aggressive future, thanks to the heavy lifting the company has done in the last three years. P&G has built a powerful growth engine, one the company believes will propel it into a top spot in the global prestige beauty business.

"Take a look at how the portfolio has changed in the past three years and you can see how it's really become focused," said Carolyn Tastad, vice president of global prestige products, market development organization, at P&G Prestige.

The stable of 27 brands now includes Hugo, Boss, Escada, Lacoste, Dunhill, Valentino, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Baldessarini, Mont Blanc, Jean Patou, Rochas, Boss Skin, Anna Sui, Puma, Laura Biagiotti and Giorgio Beverly Hills. There also is a group of lifestyle brands that function as entry points, mostly for younger consumers and focused primarily on Europe, including Mexx, Bruno Banani (a German underwear brand), Naomi Campbell, Ghost, TomTailor, Gery Weber and Marc'o'Polo. Recently, P&G Prestige Products announced that it was retiring classic German cologne brand 4711, in addition to Tosca and Irish Moos luxury toiletries. Hartwig Langer, global president of the prestige products division, said he expected the brands to be officially retired over the next couple of months.

From this mix, P&G has identified Boss, Lacoste, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Valentino as its driver brands.

Langer said the lineup will stimulate growth for the fast-paced beauty player in the future.

"I think we have the right portfolio of luxury and prestige brands to continue winning in this market," he said.

This year, a key addition to the firm's fragrance portfolio was the lucrative Dolce & Gabbana beauty license, which, according to industry sources, is worth up to $240 million in wholesale revenues annually.

Asked what Dolce & Gabbana brought to the mix, Langer said the brand was innovative and fashion-forward. "We are happy to be working with them to drive the fragrance business into new territory."

The firm also added Gucci to the fold this year, after re-signing the beauty license that the Cosmopolitan Cosmetics subsidiary of Wella brought to P&G when it was acquired in 2003.Together with the Valentino beauty license, which P&G Prestige Products acquired in 2003, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana form a strong Italian fashion troika for the company.

Other fashion brands were added in recent years, but during the same period the company choose to cut loose its fragrance and beauty licenses with Tony & Tina, Yohji Yamamoto, Yardley toiletries, Trussardi, Charles Jourdan and Max Mara.

In July, P&G Prestige Products decided to close down the fashion license of Rochas, originally acquired alongside the Rochas fragrance license from Cosmopolitan Cosmetics. The company caught considerable flak from the fashion press for the move, since Rochas' designer Oliver Theyskens had won rave reviews for his Rochas collections and became a media darling.

As tough as that episode was, P&G clearly realized the need to keep an eye on its mission. "It's not our core competency," a P&G spokeswoman said at the time. "We're not a fashion company. We're very grateful to him [Theyskens]. He's done an amazing job at Rochas, but our core competency lies elsewhere."

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