By  on December 30, 2005

NEW YORK - With the spring introduction of its newest masculine fragrance, called Cannabis Santal, Fresh intends to head in a more sensual direction.

Meanwhile, the beauty company, which is majority-owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is focused on slowly growing its wholesale business as well as expanding its network of freestanding stores.

"I wanted to create a sensual, masculine fragrance," Lev Glazman, the firm's chief executive officer and director of product development, said of Cannabis Santal. "There's a new approach by men," he added, "from the standpoint that they want to take care of themselves and they buy products that make them feel good."

The eau de parfum, which Glazman developed along with Givaudan's Caroline Sabas, has top notes of bergamot, brazilian orange and black plum. The heart of the scent includes patchouli, rose and cannabis accord, which intermingle with a base of chocolate, vetiver and vanilla musk.

"Rather than a citrusy [scent], this is much deeper," said Glazman, referring to the rose and chocolate accords.

Cannabis Santal is intended to complement Pink Jasmine, a feminine fragrance Fresh introduced in early December. Pink Jasmine was inspired by "that one moment," from a man's perspective, "when he thinks about a woman and remembers her scent," noted Glazman. The opposite scenario inspired Cannabis Santal. "I wanted to have the woman experience the same thing."

Cannabis Santal is scheduled to be launched in April. The brand's full distribution of 535 doors in the U.S. includes nine Fresh boutiques, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Blue Mercury, C.O. Bigelow and other independent boutiques. Internationally, the brand is carried in 17 Sephora doors in France and 18 points of sale in the U.K. Fresh also has three boutiques abroad - in Paris, London and Seoul.

The 100-ml. eau de parfum, which is priced at $75, could generate first-year retail sales of $1 million, according to industry sources.

LVMH, which acquired a stake in Fresh five years ago, also bought numerous other beauty brands, including Bliss, Hard Candy, Benefit Cosmetics and Urban Decay, in roughly the same time frame.While LVMH divested Bliss, Hard Candy and Urban decay, it kept on board Benefit; Acqua di Parma, a 2003 acquisition, and Fresh - which has a worldwide retail sales volume estimated at roughly $60 million.

"They love Fresh and they think we've done a great job building the brand," Glazman, who cofounded the company in 1991 with wife Alina Roytberg, said of the firm's corporate partner. "It's important to them that we've stuck to our vision. Fresh is building a lot of momentum in the market.

"We started as a bath and body brand, but in the last several years, the mix has changed. We've successfully managed to create anchors in different categories - mascara, skin care, fragrance and candles," said Glazman.

"With LVMH and us - and our vision - [Fresh] became so much more than it was before," he added. "It was very important for us to keep our full autonomy in place. They love and promote creative forces behind brands [and] feel the original founders are the bloodline of the company. They don't want to interfere with that."

Fragrance generates roughly 20 percent of Fresh revenues, while skin care for the face and body makes up about half the business. Color cosmetics account for 20 percent of revenues and the remainder of the business is generated by hair care products and sets.

Fresh bolstered its assortment of masculine products in 2003 with the introduction of Fresh Men, a grooming range priced from $26 to $38 that features a skin soother, shaving cream, cleanser and body wash.

Glazman noted the launch enlarged the brand's consumer base - and changed the ratio of female-vs.-male customers. Before Fresh Men, about 80 percent of Fresh customers were women. Today, though, it's closer to 65 percent female and 35 percent male.

"The men's line was an entry point [and it] got them buying into other products," said Glazman. As a result of the success the brand has experienced on the men's side, there are plans to introduce more advanced skin care products for guys.

"Obviously, we'll add deeper treatment-oriented products tailored to men's skin," said Glazman, who projected such a launch could take place in the next two years.Next year, the brand plans to open two Fresh stores on the West Coast. One is slated for Santa Monica, Calif., and the location of the second has yet to be determined. And, in order to expand Fresh's wholesale business in existing doors next year, the brand is developing "very strong marketing programs" with Neiman Marcus, according to Glazman, as well as with LVMH-owned Sephora.

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