Rimmel London is showing off its curves.

In addition to introducing a curl-inducing mascara — along with a spate of new items in January — the London-born cosmetics brand is trumpeting its growth curve in the U.S. market.

This story first appeared in the December 12, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In the latest 12-week period, the Rimmel brand surged 47 percent, boosting its dollar market share to more than 3 percent.

“We’re starting to become a significant player in the U.S.,” said Rick Goldberg, vice president of marketing for Rimmel.

Over the last several years, Rimmel, which was introduced here in 2000 exclusively in Wal-Mart stores, has worked to build its foundation with new spins on face makeup and mascara, in particular. The focus now is steadily expanding its product base and store count. On average, Rimmel occupies three feet of display space in mass retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, Ulta and CVS Pharmacy, which it entered in May. In the U.S., Rimmel added 5,000 doors this year for a total of 18,000. Next month, Rimmel plans to roll out to Duane Reade doors, as well.

Its upcoming products include Stay Matte Clarifying Matte Foundation, Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay Gloss, Sexy Curves Mascara and new shades of Rimmel eyeliners and nail enamel.

Stay Matte foundation, which intends to leverage the success of this year’s launch of Lasting Finish 16-HR Foundation, has a collagen-enriched formula with a gentle dose of salicylic acid, designed to clear skin of all ages, and botanical extracts to soothe sensitive skin. The 12-hour formula will sell for $6.99, and upcoming TV and print ads will feature British actress Lily Cole.

Sexy Curves Mascara, for $7.49, is said to give lashes 70 percent more curl and its flexible Triple Plump Brush is designed to coat difficult-to-reach lashes, said Bill Boraczek, senior vice president of marketing for Coty Beauty. Print and TV ads, featuring British actress and pop singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, will play off the idea of “getting curves in the right places,” said Goldberg. Based on the mascara’s European sales, Sexy Curves could account for 8 percent of Rimmel’s overall franchise, he added.

Its upcoming long-wearing lip gloss, Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay, is a dual-ended gloss with color on one side and a pearly shine on the other. The 10-hour gloss, $7.99, will be supported with print ads.

Goldberg said, “Overall, new products typically end up being 17 percent to 20 percent of the business. So we are hoping to see at least 10 percent growth, even in this flat market.”

Industry sources estimate Rimmel is a $100 million brand in the U.S., and that its retail sales are beginning to near its sales in the U.K., where the brand has a leading 21 percent dollar share in mass outlets (excluding prestige brands sold in mass outlets).

To amplify Rimmel’s London heritage, products and packaging will increasingly feature a crown logo, a nod to British royalty. Boraczek said, “Rimmel is about the London look and London style.” Goldberg added, “That’s our distinctiveness in the market. Rimmel gives consumers a reason to believe that a city that creates fashion, music and is cutting edge is accessible.”

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