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Coty Acquires Calvin Klein Color License

The color business was previously licensed to Markwins Holding Co.

Calvin Klein Inc. has turned to Coty Inc., its fragrance licensee, to develop a color cosmetics line for launch in 2012.

The color business was previously licensed to Markwins Holding Co. and that deal has been passed on to Coty. Tom Murry, president and chief executive officer of Calvin Klein, stated this week, “Coty has done an excellent job of growing our fragrance business around the world. We appreciate their significant expertise in color cosmetics and see great synergies with centralizing these two businesses with the same partner.”

Coty had acquired the Calvin Klein fragrance business in 2005 when it acquired Unilever’s entire prestige portfolio for $800 million. But color cosmetics was not part of the deal. That license went to Markwins, which, in spring 2007, unveiled a 210-stockkeeping-unit range with a flourish at the Cosmoprof trade fair in Bologna, Italy. The range gained initial distribution in Asia and Europe, with a comparatively thinner representation in the U.S. Apparently, it had difficulty catching on in America. According to sources, the brand never broke into The NPD Group’s top 50 ranking of color lines in U.S. department stores between 2007 and 2009.

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Executives at Markwins could not be reached for comment.

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Now Coty will try. “Coty is always looking to expand our portfolio,” said Bernd Beetz, ceo of Coty Inc. “Calvin Klein fragrances have remained amongst the most popular around the world, and we feel strongly that this introduction will further strengthen both Coty’s and Calvin Klein’s dynamic positioning within the beauty arena, with a concept that pushes the boundaries of the color cosmetics category as we know it.”

Reached by e-mail and asked why Coty had not acquired the color license in 2005, Beetz replied, “At the time we acquired CK fragrances, the color license wasn’t available. We’ve always wanted this license and are excited about the potential.”

The upcoming Calvin Klein-Coty collaboration will mark the fashion house’s fourth attempt at the makeup market. The first and second incarnations were created by Calvin Klein himself, who took a fresh approach to color cosmetics in the late Seventies under his own company. The second attempt was with Unilever.