NEW YORK — The department store fragrance counter is rife with flanker brands. And mass manufacturer Dana Classic Fragrances has taken notice.

For the first time, its classic Tabu fragrance brand will offer a seasonal scent. Tabu Red Heels, a floral oriental, will be on display from mid-March through June. A 1.2-oz. cologne spray is $12.99.

"Obviously, we are looking at what is happening at prestige and trying to give our consumer the same advantage," said Tony Wesley, chief operating officer of New Dana Perfumes Corp., parent of Dana Classic. Red Heels, he said, "is a flirty, more playful version of its sensual classic, Tabu."

Also just for spring, Dana is offering roll-on editions of its Tabu, Chantilly, NaVy and Heaven Sent fragrances, for $7.99. Exclusively for Mother’s Day, Chantilly will be packaged in a retro-style bottle. Chantilly Special Edition, a 1.7-oz. bottle is priced at $17.99. A permanent addition to the Dana collection is also coming. Secrets by Dana, which is already sold in Europe, will hit stores this spring. Described as a fresh and fruity scent, Secrets is designed as a fragrance of the "feminine, modern woman," according to Dana marketers. A 0.5 oz. is $9 and a 2 oz. is $20.

Dana’s spring introductions couldn’t come any sooner — the mass fragrance market could use a boost. Total retail sales for 2002 fell 9.8 percent, excluding Wal-Mart, according to Information Resources Inc. Even the introduction of numerous open-sell prestige fragrance programs were not able to stabilize the category.

However, Wal-Mart, which does not share its sales data on a category basis, may have had better results than others with its prestige fragrance business last year: The world’s largest retailer awarded Elizabeth Arden Inc. its "Supplier Award of Excellence" for the fourth quarter in the cosmetics, skin care, fragrance and bath-and-body category. According to Arden, Wal-Mart took into account its double-digit sales growth, margins and inventory turns in making its selection.

Arden sells prestige beauty products in more than 40,000 doors in the U.S. and internationally. Its vast portfolio includes Red Door, Elizabeth Arden Green Tea and Halston.

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