By  on May 4, 2007

Fresh, one of the upstart indie brands of the Nineties, is celebrating its 16th year with all the trappings of adulthood.

As part of its "Sweet 16," Fresh is giving itself the gift of a makeover by repackaging all of its products in an effort to unify the brand's image as it prepares for global expansion. Dubbed "The Fresh Unification Process," this effort comes on the heels of the installation of Jean-Marc Plisson as the newly named chief executive officer in March, a closer working relationship with parent LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and a battery of new product launches.

All of these moves are calculated to propel a 30 percent increase in sales by the end of this year to $80 million, according to estimates by industry sources.

"We're growing the brand in front of everyone's eyes; we need to offer the consumer uniformity with a strong, distinct look and style," said Lev Glazman, president and director of research and development at Fresh.

As the company grew over the years, executives realized that Fresh needed a more cohesive brand image across all bath, body and fragrance categories. Research showed that consumers had trouble recognizing the individual product launches as part of an overall brand. After starting with the Sugar body care and fragrance collection earlier this year, the repackaging effort will roll out in stages until its completion this fall. Currently about 50 percent of the items in the bath and fragrance category have been repackaged, said Glazman. Although skin care products will not be included in the current repackaging efforts, there are plans in development for its restage.

Company executives have already seen a 30 percent increase in retail sales with the relaunch of the Sugar collection.

The extensive plan calls for design elements like the shape of the signature fragrance bottle and Fresh logo to be incorporated uniformly in all fragrance repackaging.

"Fresh is a brand built on collections, but it's not about individual collections," said Glazman, who attributes the success of certain categories to what he calls "anchor" bestsellers. "Every category has its own star, and we've created hero products within each category," said Glazman. Some of those star products include the Soy Face Cleanser, Brown Sugar Body Polish, Supernova Mascara, Sugar Face Polish and Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15, which is the company's best-selling treatment product, according to Glazman.The company kicked off its "Sweet 16" celebration with a party April 24 at its 1,000-square-foot flagship in SoHo, where a company time line followed the brand's development from the early Nineties.

With about 250 stockkeeping units in the collection across all categories, skin and body care accounts for a little more than half the company's business, while fragrance makes up 23 percent and makeup 15 percent.

Following the appointment of Plisson as ceo, the company plans to move its headquarters from Boston to the LVMH tower on East 57th Street in New York by end of the summer.

"Brand continuity is important, and we plan to keep it a niche brand. But we'll continue developing both the retail and wholesale businesses," said Plisson, who noted that over 65 percent of business is generated by wholesale. "We grew 20 percent last year, and we plan on a trend growth of about 20 percent every year."

Fresh is currently sold in some 300 U.S. doors including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Sephora, in addition to apothecaries. The company also has 13 freestanding Fresh stores in cities such as San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, London and Seoul, with possible expansion in Washington.

Executives plan to open a new store at New York's Columbus Circle by July and are in talks with other high-end retailers such as Bloomingdale's. The company is also looking to further expand its overseas business in markets like South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in addition to tapping into new markets.

To coincide with its makeover, Fresh will roll out a host of new products later this summer. In August, Fresh expects to introduce a new bath and body collection based on mangosteen, a Southeast Asian "superfruit" known for its high level of antioxidants. The Mangosteen body care collection will include a bath and shower gel, body lotion, soap and eau de parfum. Items range from $14 for the Mangosteen Oval Soap to $65 for a 3.4-oz. eau de parfum.

Also in August, Fresh will launch Satin Liner Palette for the eyes and A Kiss Is Just A Kiss Beauty Palette for the eyes, cheeks and lips. Satin Liner Palette features three cream liners in Sienna, Olive and Coal shades, while the multipurpose Kiss Beauty Palette offers a silver shimmer cream for the face, a pink cream blush for the cheeks and a highly pigmented burgundy lip gloss. Both products will retail for $45."We take a 'less-is-more' approach to makeup," said Alina Roytberg, president and creative director of Fresh. "Instead of offering single shadows, we like introducing trio sets."

The company is also introducing a high-shine non-sticky Sugar Lip Gloss, which offers the same benefits as the Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 but acts as a lip plumping gloss. The new gloss contains skin-smoothing humectants and moisturizers like sugar, shea butter, jojoba oil, grape seed oil, black currant seed oil and vitamin E. Retailing for $25, the Sugar Lip Gloss will be available in 10 shades and will launch exclusively at Sephora and in August.

"We're taking the success of our sugar lip treatment and bringing it into color," said Roytberg. "People have lots of interest in anything with the sugar ingredient."

Finally, the company will launch the Anise Wrinkle Eraser, priced at $55. It is an age-defying product designed to act as a topical filler made from anise extract, hibiscus peptides, peony, mulberry roots and polymers.

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