TEEN SPIRIT: Avon, which recently unveiled its plans to target teens with a new cosmetics line, Mark, is reportedly sniffing out teen skin care opportunities, too. According to sources, the direct marketing company is courting Manhattan-based Noodé Skin Care, one of the last indie brands in the department store world. Noodé executives were not available for comment. Avon said there "was no truth to the rumors."

But sources said Avon is "very interested" in taking control over Noodé’s department store floor space, as well as in growing the brand’s distribution by taking it directly to college campuses via direct marketing. Noodé is sold in 85 department and specialty stores worldwide, including Bloomingdale’s, Sephora, Nordstrom and Foley’s. The Manhattan-based company ended 2002 with more than $1 million in sales, may have reached a point where a merger or partnership could help the company’s tapped-out distribution base. Avon’s entry in the department store arena — with the short-lived BeComing brand — came to an abrupt end in February when J.C. Penney announced it would be bowing out of the cosmetics business. In other Avon news, reports emerged at press time that the company has been in talks to buy Jafra Cosmetics, a direct marketing cosmetics firm owned by private New York equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice. Talks, however, reportedly fell through. Avon would not comment on the reports. CDR also declined comment.

FREEMAN BUYBACK: The industry is buzzing that "rapid changes" are ahead for Freeman Cosmetics. According to sources, the brand’s original founder, Larry Freeman, is interested in buying his namesake brand from The Hathi Group, a Chicago-based firm that acquired the bath-and-hair care brand from the Dial Corp. in 2001. Dial purchased Freeman Cosmetics from the Freeman family in 1998 for approximately $80 million. The Hathi Group reportedly bought the brand from Dial for less than $30 million.Freeman, who, since selling the brand, has founded — and sold — the Pure Beauty retail chain and has launched mass beauty brand phBeauty Labs, said, "At this moment the Freeman family is continuing to grow our business, phBeauty Labs and its brands...aggressively. We have no comment on the rumor that we are trying to reacquire the Freeman brand at this time." The Hathi Group had no comment on the rumored deal.NEW BOARD: Nioxin, the hair care company that sells products for thinning hair, has created a board of directors as a way to continue growth. Eva Graham, who founded the company in 1987, will act as chairman of the board and her two sons, Brian and Mark, will respectively hold the posts of chief executive and vice chairman.

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