UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Del Laboratories is voicing a competitive spirit. The company has set its sights on ranking among the top echelon of U.S. cosmetics brands by 2005.

That would put its leading Sally Hansen brand in a league with market leaders Maybelline, Cover Girl, L’Oréal, Revlon and Almay.

That prediction was made by Del’s Harvey Alstodt, executive vice president, sales, at Del Labs, as he and other company executives previewed an arsenal of new items they hope will take Del to that level.

According to Information Resources Inc., Sally Hansen already has retail sales of $135 million, excluding Wal-Mart. In addition, Del markets Cornsilk, Naturistics, NYC New York Color and La Cross. The company has been building its business for the past three years and growth has continued this year. In 2002, Del’s beauty sales grew 8 percent to $284 million. Growth has continued this year with the company’s net sales up some 8.4 percent for the first nine months.

Among the plethora of new items are upscale implements, a spa-inspired nail collection called Beyond Perfect Protein nail color and a host of novel makeup products.

A major growth vehicle will be the Sally Hansen name, the number-one nail care brand, which is flexing its muscles in other beauty categories. Last year, Sally Hansen delved into color cosmetics with Healing Beauty. That franchise will be expanded with a Fast & Flawless Leg Makeup (see related story) that is an extension of its Fast & Flawless Airbrush Makeup — a star of the Healing Beauty lineup.

Two new shades are being added to the makeup for 2004. “The goal of Sally Hansen Healing Beauty is to find real needs and solve them rather than just being another makeup line,” said William McMenemy, executive vice president, marketing.

A perfect case in point — products to halt the appearance of aging. “Women are multitasking and look tired,” explained Mona Monaghan, senior vice president and general manager for Sally Hansen. To the rescue is the Sally Hansen Healing Beauty Fast & Flawless Skin Brightener. While admitting there are other brighteners on the market, Del executives said this product goes beyond the competition because it softens imperfections, but also has retinol and the Healing Beauty exclusive Bio Active Complex to improve skin tone, texture and moisture feel. “The formula is like a custard and has a cooling feeling,” Monaghan added. Also, starting in January, Sally Hansen will offer 18-Hour Lip Treatment that repairs, conditions and replenishes dry, cracked lips.Another technological breakthrough for the company is the Cornsilk Pore Minimizing Makeup which helps lessen the visibility of pores. Healing Beauty is also introducing a Maximum Growth Mascara that helps lashes grow longer and stronger in five days, said Monaghan. A new Beauty Liner and Shadow Duo will bow giving women one tool to create dramatic eyes. Prices range from $7.99 for the Skin Brightener to $5.29 for the mascara.

Fortifying the strength of the Sally Hansen name in nail care are several new nail care initiatives. Many are targeted to duplicate expensive spa products such as the Salon Strength Treatment, a protein complex for fast nail growth, Age Correct Strengthening Base & Top Coat, an antiaging moisturizing strengthener and Manicure in a Minute, which smooths and conditions hands and cuticles. “Women want salon results at home,” said Monaghan. Many want to grow their own natural nails and are looking for less expensive solutions than professional brands.

“Your nails tell your age,” said Monaghan, referring to the Age Correct item, adding, “This can transform ridged and aged looking nails.”

While Sally Hansen helps consumers grow natural nails, the company is also introducing new and improved artificial nails including new Glue-On Nails, new nail glues, three kits and a nail remover.

The company also wants to treat consumers’ feet. An 18-Hour Cracked Heel crème will be available on counters in January with vitamins A, E and C, grape seed oil, shea butter and tea tree oil to provide fast relief to cracked heels. “Feet get dehydrated and need these products,” said Monaghan.

Del has also enjoyed growth of its edgier NYC New York Color line. Consumer demand for value has propelled the growth of the items priced mostly under $5. In nail for 2004, NYC is adding sheer French manicure nail enamels at 99 cents. A first-of-its-kind package at mass is being featured with its new Sparkle Eye Dusts, which come in a clear jar with a built-in brush, according to NYC brand manager Laura Weinstein.

Addressing usage trends, NYC now sports a $1.99 waterproof mascara in jet black and brownish black. “One-third of mascara wearers prefer waterproof mascaras,” noted Weinstein. And reacting to the downward trend in waxy lipsticks, NYC is adding a liquid lipstick in 12 colors bearing girl’s names such as Jenn, Audre, Jessica and Liz.Weinstein said NYC’s team noticed a demand for more makeup applicators and that resulted in the On Location Professional Accessories Kit. Another item the company expects to perform well is the On Location Makeup Kit. “Women love the convenience of kits,” said Weinstein. “They prefer to travel with them and we don’t believe it takes them out of the market for other purchases.” For women on-the-go, the company has also created a purse-size fashion emery board collection priced at 99 cents. NYC is also offering Anti-Feathering Lip Treatment to halt the “bleeding” of lip coloring. Thanks to consumer-driven products and the consolidation of other value-priced brands, NYC has been on a growth spurt and the company expects to have 5,000 more doors selling NYC by the end of 2004.

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