Athens-born items from Aromatherapy by Apivita, Propoline and Korres.

NEW YORK — As memories of the Athens Summer Games begin to fade, some Athens-based beauty brands are taking steps to increase their presence in the U.S.<BR><BR>At least three naturally based niche brands from Greece — Korres, Propoline and...

NEW YORK — As memories of the Athens Summer Games begin to fade, some Athens-based beauty brands are taking steps to increase their presence in the U.S.

At least three naturally based niche brands from Greece — Korres, Propoline and Aromatherapy by Apivita — have established a foothold in U.S. distribution and are hoping to grow in the specialty retail channel.

With a little help from an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show outside Olympic Stadium in Athens on Aug. 25, Korres plans to double its U.S. distribution by year-end. So said Daniel Davis, managing director of Korres Natural Products USA, a New York-based subsidiary the company opened here in January. “We’ll be in 73 Sephora [USA] stores by the end of the month,” he noted. “I see it in 200 doors by Christmas.” Korres, which is also carried in selected Nordstrom and Marshall Field’s stores, could do between $1 million and $1.5 million in retail sales by year-end, according to industry sources.

Meanwhile, Aromatherapy by Apivita is wrapping up an exclusive distribution agreement following the launch of the aromatherapeutic personal care brand in 60 Pure Beauty doors in August 2003. The brand is in negotiations for further expansion in upscale beauty chain distribution. Industry sources project the line, which ranges in price from $12 for home fragrance to $29 for face cream, could generate $1.5 million in the U.S. during the next year. Aromatherapy by Apivita also plans to launch into 1,000 U.S. doors with monodose items that fall under a sub-brand called Aromatherapy Express.

While the Propoline brand is also marketed by Apivita, its U.S. distribution is handled by Fairfax, Calif.-based Sarlo Beauty, which has built Propoline’s reach to about 50 doors on both U.S. coasts. Sources project the brand could garner sales of between $1 million and $1.5 million this year. “We are seeking out limited, exclusive distribution, concentrated in high-end apothecary [and] beauty boutiques,” stated Susie Sarlo, president of Sarlo Beauty.

Propoline’s roughly 55-item, U.S.-based assortment ranges in price from $4.50 for lip balms to $36 for hair tonics and features products in the hair care; bath and body care, and foot and hand care categories. Four new “antiage spot” products, priced between $30 and $35, will be launched in about a week, Sarlo noted, and the brand will begin a test-marketing program at two Nordstrom doors next month.

This story first appeared in the September 3, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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Propoline, which was originally launched about 25 years ago, employs at least two key ingredients — propolis, a type of bees’ wax and, separately, a sap-based extract of the Mastic Tree from the Greek island of Chios. Each ingredient has antiseptic, soothing and regenerating properties and both are used in products like washes and shampoos.

Within the next month, Korres will launch its own mastiha-based line of shampoos and shower gels. “We enrich all formulas with active plant extracts,” said Lena Philippou, wife of George Korres, who founded his namesake line in 1996. Its assortment of about 100 items in the U.S. ranges in price from $6.50 for bar soap to $48 for anticellulite cream. Other Korres product categories include hair care, bath and body care and face care.

Korres, who took over a homeopathic pharmacy in Athens’ Pagrati district in 1992, is a founding member of the Hellenic Association of Ethnic Pharmacology. In May, Korres opened a freestanding store in Barcelona in addition to one it has in London. The firm generated annual sales of about 13.3 million euros last year, or $15 million, at average exchange rates.

Nikos and Niki Koutsiana founded Apivita 25 years ago. The firm generated annual sales of about 26 million euros last year, or $29.4 million at average exchange rates, up nearly 300 percent in the last five years. The husband-and-wife team is among the founding members of the Greek Homeopathic Association.

Apivita’s Athens-based worldwide general manager, former Coca-Cola executive John Koutsouridis, said the company employs scientific research to create “something modern using the history of Greece.” He added that throughout 3,000 years of Greek history, including during the era of Hippocrates, people have qualitatively observed plant extracts for potential benefits.

The firm’s Aromatherapy brand, which uses green tea extract as a key ingredient, Koutsouridis noted, is “about well-being, focus and quality of life.”

— Matthew W. Evans