By and  on June 5, 2006

YSL BeautE is cooking.

This fall, the beauty arm of PPR-owned Gucci Group will launch the first fragrance, a men’s scent, by designer Stefano Pilati; a new olfactory concept by Stella McCartney will bow; a new foundation will be linked to YSL’s top-selling Touche Eclat highlighter pen, and a $430 skin care product, Temp Majeur Elixir, is expected to build on the double-digit growth of the brand’s luxury-price skin care range, Temp Majeur.

Next year, a YSL women’s fragrance will be launched, according to executives, and another McCartney product will follow.

Although known in the past for its iconic fragrances, YSL Beauté has been working for the last six years to build its color cosmetics and makeup credentials. Chantal Roos, who took the helm as president and chief executive officer six years ago after the house was acquired by Gucci, said that, since 2000, YSL’s cosmetics volume has increased by 56 percent.

In the U.S., color and skin care are growing by 11 percent at retail, and the two categories account for 30 percent of the business; that figure is expected to rise to 40 percent in 2008, according to executives.

In 2000, YSL reportedly did 68 percent of its global business in fragrance, 23 percent in makeup and color, and 9 percent in treatment. Now the percentages stand at 60 percent, 30 and 10, respectively.

YSL has moved into third position in France, ahead of Chanel, Roos noted, and ranks number one in color at World Duty Free, a key travel retail operator.

She acknowledges that skin care needs work.

“We are not there yet, but we are improving,” Roos said, noting that the push to expand skin care’s share of the YSL sales pie is expected to be the focus of the next five years.

While YSL is scoring pluses in color and treatment, the results have been far more mixed in its struggle to launch a hit fragrance. Although scent was YSL’s hallmark in the Seventies and Eighties — with Opium, Paris and Kouros — the global market now is in turmoil. Even with the partnership of Tom Ford, who was then Gucci and YSL creative director, the launch of Nu in 2001 and M7 in 2002 attracted attention and an elitist knot of fans, but overall sales results admittedly did not live up to expectations.

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