NEW YORK — A four-year struggle to reestablish the venerable Helena Rubinstein cosmetics brand in the U.S. has ended with parent L’Oréal deciding to invest its resources elsewhere.

The French beauty giant will cease operations for the brand in the U.S. July 31.

Luc Nadeau, the outgoing president of the Luxury Products Division of L’Oréal USA who has been promoted to dual responsibilities in Canada, said Tuesday that management had concluded “the viability of the brand in the long term would take too many resources for too long a period to get to the point of being a successful brand.”

He made the comment after being asked if Rubinstein is now profitable. Clearly, it is not in the U.S., and the size of the brand’s American business is tiny. Nadeau, however, pointed out Rubinstein “is very successful elsewhere and growing.” It will continue to be marketed in Europe, Asia and South America.

The brand was reintroduced in the U.S. in late 1999 with the splashy opening of a gleaming 8,000-square-foot spa and store at 135 Prince Street in New York’s SoHo district. Distribution gradually inched ahead, first to Bergdorf Goodman, then Saks Fifth Avenue and finally to a total of about 10 doors outside the spa.

Nadeau’s successor as the new Luxury Products Division president, Edgar Huber, said in a release that Margaret Sharkey, president of Rubinstein in the U.S., has been appointed to a new position as senior vice president of strategic business development, Luxury Products Division.

Nadeau added, “We feel that we will be able to find positions for most of the [32] people involved in Helena Rubinstein.”

Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal USA’s president and chief executive officer, foreshadowed this move during an interview that appeared in the June issue of Beauty Biz. When asked if he thought such a historic brand could be made compelling for today’s consumer, Agon candidly admitted, “It’s probably one of our most difficult challenges.”

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