By  on June 8, 2007

LONDON — Jimmy Choo is trying out scent for size.

The high-end footwear and accessories brand has inked a 10-year worldwide fragrance licensing deal with Paris-based beauty manufacturer and distributor Selective Beauty SAS.

A debut women's scent is scheduled for spring 2009. The move into fragrance is part of a strategy to grow Jimmy Choo, which was acquired by private equity firm TowerBrook Capital Partners earlier this year, into a luxury lifestyle powerhouse. Financial terms of the Selective Beauty deal were not disclosed.

"We thought of two products that could reflect very well the sexiness of Jimmy Choo — one was eyewear and the other was perfume," said Robert Bensoussan, who this week passed his title of chief executive of Jimmy Choo to Joshua Schulman. As reported, Bensoussan, who continues to be a member of Jimmy Choo's board, plans to focus on building a portfolio of luxury brands with TowerBrook.

"We launched our handbag line nearly four years ago and already Jimmy Choo has evolved from a shoe brand to a global luxury brand," added Muriel Zingraff, director of new product development and licensing at the firm. "It was natural to go into fragrance as it allows us to express a different facet of the brand."

The license will fall into Selective Beauty's luxury division, which also includes the John Galliano and Agent Provocateur beauty businesses. "It's such a fabulous brand with incredible star quality," said Jim Ragsdale, managing director of Selective Beauty's luxury division. "It's glamorous, it's chic and a bit flashy. It's something that makes every woman dream."

In line with Selective Beauty's other luxury brands, Jimmy Choo fragrances will be sold in a maximum of 2,000 to 3,000 doors worldwide. In contrast, beauty products by brands in its prestige division, which include MaxMara and Trussardi, are sold through 9,000 to 14,000 points of sale.

"Our top priority is to create exceptional product and to control the distribution network," said Corrado Brondi, president of Selective Beauty, adding that Jimmy Choo scents will be sold through high-end specialty and department stores in the U.S. and U.K., two key markets for the brand. Elsewhere in Europe, prestige perfumeries also will be targeted.Beauty is one of a number of areas that Bensoussan sees Jimmy Choo entering in the future. He also suggested jeans, lingerie, swimwear, jewelry and furs could be in the cards, as well as eyewear.

"I believe fragrance is a way of expanding the client base," he said. "We hope it will attract many more people to the Jimmy Choo concept, especially people who would like to own a piece of the Jimmy Choo world but who can't necessarily spend the minimum $500, which today is the basic [entry price] for a Jimmy Choo product."

In addition, Zingraff noted beauty products likely will appeal to the brand's existing clientele. "Jimmy Choo is a lifestyle brand," she said. "Ladies who wear our shoes and [carry] our bags already have fragrances. For us, it's a reflection of how we compliment the lifestyle of our clients by allowing them to dress in Jimmy Choo from head to toe."

"This exciting new partnership will not only give us the ability to meet the demand for a fragrance, but also achieve my original vision for Jimmy Choo to be one of the most treasured luxury brands," said Jimmy Choo founder and president Tamara Mellon in a statement.

Jimmy Choo is already on a skyward sales trajectory, according to Bensoussan, who noted turnover for the first five months of this year are up 40 percent year-on-year for a projected full-year volume of more than 130 million euros, or $174.95 million at current exchange.

Executives declined to reveal projections for the brand's debut scent. However, Bensoussan was decidedly bullish."We are very ambitious," he said.

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