PARIS — It’s all systems go for the Prada-Puig beauty partnership.

As expected, Prada Holding NV and Puig Beauty & Fashion Group signed an agreement Tuesday to form a 50-50 joint venture for the management of Prada’s fragrance and skin care business worldwide.

As reported, Prada and Puig had inked a letter of intent last June to form the entity, which is based in Barcelona.

According to Manuel Puig, president of Puig Prestige Beauty Brands, a priority is to organize Prada’s beauty product lineup into three main divisions: “multi-dose” items, mainly for basic skin care; “mono-dose” products, for specific treatments, and “mini-dose” units for color. There will also be a stepped-up emphasis on training and sampling.

Other plans for the brand include a first fragrance for Prada, slated to be launched in 2004, and increasing the brand’s product distribution substantially from its current count of some 100 doors to 1,500 ultimately —although Puig stresses there is no rush to do so.

Puig is bullish on Prada. “We think there’s great opportunity for the Prada concept and name,” he continued.

While Puig refused to discuss numbers, industry sources estimate the Prada beauty brand could generate $228 million to $342 million in wholesale sales in three to five years. This compares with the estimated $10 million at wholesale the brand rings up today, the industry sources say.

Prada first entered the beauty business in September 2000 with the launch of Prada Skin Care. Its strategy broke all codes of traditional beauty brands, which typically hit the market with a fragrance. Instead, Prada dove straight in with treatment — and treatment not in jars or tubes, but in tiny uni-dose containers. Next up was color in the form of lip balms, rather than lipsticks.

Prada joins Puig’s portfolio of prestige beauty brands, which also includes Paco Rabanne, Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci, Comme des Garçons and Hussein Chalayan.

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