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Critical Mass: Smart Brands Revs Up Growth Engine

When Gary Schofield is involved, retailers know they are in for a barrage of new items.

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NEW YORK — When Gary Schofield is involved, retailers know they are in for a barrage of new items.

Schofield, who helped build the Caboodles brand in the early Nineties, is now the president and chief executive officer of the three-year-old Smart Brands company. In that short time he’s developed an exclusive line of youthful beauty items for Target, launched a value makeup line and created an assortment of other beauty brands that fill holes in the existing market.

Now Smart Brands is revving up even more with plans for an organic cosmetics line, a new “girly” makeup line, two licenses and a major acquisition of a British beauty firm.

According to Schofield, Smart Brands is finalizing the name and the packaging for a totally organic cosmetics line targeted at mass market retailers. “We have a 4-foot planogram and we feel we will certainly be one of the first mass market organic lines because true organic is not simple to do,” said Schofield. “We’ve taken a long time to develop it.” He said the assortment will consist of 217 stockkeeping units of color cosmetics items. The packaging will also be environmentally friendly.

“We feel there are shoppers of all ages interested in organic, but it just doesn’t have the right distribution right now. We think the concept is especially ripe for drugstores,” he said.

Also in the works is a new line called Devine, which Schofield believes serves an unmet market need. “Consumer research shows all women want something ‘girly.’ Too much of what is out there is a problem and solution product rather than something flirty. One buyer likened the current products to motor oil…you need it but it really isn’t fun. We want to bring back the fun.” Devine is packaged in pink and brown and features items such as eye products in a purse-shaped box. Devine’s prices range from $2.99 to $9.99 and Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada has already signed on to carry the line.

Smart Brand’s exclusive lines with Target continue to do well and have been granted more footage. The products include Gossip, Karma and Spa Candy. Schofield said he hopes to develop exclusives with other retailers. “Managing a proprietary line can be difficult for retailers so we can help,” he offered. The company’s brand portfolio is rounded out with a value line called Ten for dollar stores, Tru, which will eventually be phased in to Devine, Indulge and Petite Treats.

This story first appeared in the April 13, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

With licensing playing a bigger role, especially for young shoppers, Smart Brands just added two well-known names: Groovy Girls and Zoey 101. Groovy Girls are soft fashionable dolls and the beauty line consists mostly of lip products. “These are dolls with a positive message to girls,” said Schofield, who will oversee distribution of the beauty items in North America and parts of Europe. The lip and glitter items sell for $2.99 to $4.99.

The other license, Zoey 101, is only for Europe and Canada and is based on the hit Nickelodeon show of the same name starring Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney Spears’ sister. There are 92 sku’s in the line, which features icons of the show such as hanging medallions. In addition to beauty, there are bath and hair items.

Smart Brands is wrapping up the purchase of Elizabeth French, a 15-year-old United Kingdom brand that sells beauty and bath gift items under the VIVO, Lizzie and Katie and Friends brands. The lines are targeted at the same youth audience as the majority of Smart Brands lineup. According to Schofield, the heavy concentration of holiday bath sets is a good fit for Smart Brands. “Our demographics are a nice fit and this opens up more distribution across Europe,” Schofield explained. The Elizabeth French concept will also help Smart Brands continue to build a holiday gift set business with retailers such as Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart Canada, Rite Aid, Dollar Tree and Albertsons.

International growth is top of mind for Smart Brands and in addition to the purchase of Elizabeth French, the company has acquired a cosmetics factory in China that will include a 15,000-square-foot showroom. The China facility offers not only less expensive production opportunities, but the chance to expose more retailers from all over the world to the brand. To facilitate international expansion, Smart Brands exhibited at the recent CosmoProf meeting in Bologna, Italy. Schofield said 40 percent of the company’s growth is coming from international developments.

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