PARIS — Due to strong growth in its key businesses, Groupe Clarins posted top-line growth of 5.6 percent for 2004 over 2003 with net sales rising to 939 million euros, or $1.17 billion.

At constant exchange rates, sales would have risen 8.6 percent. Dollar figures are at the average exchange rate.

The French company’s beauty business, comprising skin care and makeup, generated 590.5 million euros, or $734.5 million, a 7 percent gain over the prior-year period. In 2004, Clarins-owned fragrances rang up 348.5 million, or $433.5 million, representing a 3.3 percent uptick.

Net sales from the company’s skin care increased 11.4 percent at constant exchange, bolstered by new products in its Super Restorative line for women aged 50-plus, and growth in its Clarins Men skin care and White Plus (or Bright Plus, as it’s called in the U.S.) whitening businesses.

Clarins color cosmetics sales decreased 3.9 percent at constant exchange, “reflecting a particularly significant basis effect from the introduction of the new makeup tester in 2003,” the company said in a statement.

In fragrance last year, Clarins’ Thierry Mugler Parfums registered sales 6.2 percent higher at constant exchange than in 2003. Thanks, in part, to the introduction of BMen fragrance for males. Clarins reported the combined business from its BMen and AMen scents spiked 43.4 percent in 2004 versus AMen’s 2003 sales. Mugler’s perennial bestseller, Angel, remained the number-one scent in its domestic market, said Clarins.

Azzaro’s sales dipped 3 percent at constant exchange, due to the unfavorable basis effect of its Visit fragrance launch in 2003.

Clarins’ fragrance distribution business — which includes products from Procter & Gamble, Hermès and Inter Parfums — posted gains of 21.2 percent at constant exchange in 2004 over 2003.

Last year, currency effects negatively impacted Clarins’ sales by three points.

Looking ahead, the company said in the statement: “With sales outperforming targets, consolidated earnings will exceed initial guidance, boosting the group’s operating margin levels of 12.1 percent achieved in 2003.” Clarins’ 2004 profits will be published April 7.

The firm also aims to generate net sales of 1 billion euros, or about $1.3 billion, at constant exchange this year.

This story first appeared in the February 11, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.