MILAN — The Cosmoprof beauty trade show intends to pump more life into the traditional staid trade fair format during the four-day event that will open its doors in Bologna, Italy, on March 18. After an injection of events — including parties, workshops and panel discussions — broke new ground at last year’s fair, organizers intend to accelerate the momentum this year with an expanded lineup of initiatives during its 44th edition.


“Our objective is to have different events targeted at various sectors to create network opportunities, so that at the end of the day, people are signing contracts,” said Aureliana De Sanctis, chief executive officer of SoGeCos, the trade show’s organizer, during a press conference held here Thursday.


To this effect, the fair’s trend area has been rebranded as Cosmoff Privé, located at the exhibition’s entrance and set to host four days of events, press days and presentations. Highlights include a private function — described as top secret — hosted by luxury house Chanel and scheduled for the fair’s March 18 opening day. Natural cosmetics company Weleda plans to celebrate its 90th anniversary with a soiree in the private space for guests, including personalities from the worlds of sport and entertainment, on March 19. Also on Saturday evening, the Italian version of Vanity Fair magazine is set to throw a party, titled “Beauty Is For Ever,” in conjunction with Cosmoprof for selected guests in the city of Bologna.


Despite last year’s efforts at rejuvenation, the selective perfumery area remained somewhat flat and sparsely trafficked, according to buyers and exhibitors. In response, fair organizer De Sanctis said the selective perfumery area will no longer be housed in its traditional location in Hall 36, but will be revamped and positioned in a new space in two parallel and smaller areas located in Halls 25 and 26, adjoining the green pavilion.


“It’s not about creating huge, expansive floors, but more importantly we want to create networking opportunities,” said De Sanctis. To this effect, the Ethos chain of Italian perfumeries — which has 167 stores throughout the country — has partnered for the first time with the exhibition. The beauty retailer will be based in the selective perfumery area in Hall 26 in a new lounge intended to offer a vibrant meeting place for buyers and visitors, described by Massimo Zonca, Ethos’ managing director, as, “a type of fair within the fair, an exceptional space that creates a new concept within Cosmoprof.”


The upbeat mood during the press conference somewhat reflected the overall state of the domestic cosmetics market, which increased 1 percent last year to 9.2 billion euros, or about $12.6 billion, compared with 2009, according to Fabio Franchina, president of UniPro, the Italian association of cosmetics companies.


During the press conference, Franchina credited a 15 percent uptick in exports to 2.3 billion euros, or about $3.1 billion, for the positive results. He said exports to key markets such as Germany, France and the U.S. increased by 38, 12.2 and 29.7 percent, respectively, although key market Brazil dropped 3.5 percent.


“Despite a turbulent economy, the cosmetics market continues to grow,” he said.


In terms of retail distribution channels, pharmacies have continued to ramp up sales, growing 3.3 percent last year to 1.4 billion euros, or around $1.9 billion at current exchange. Perfumeries appear to be clawing back business too, after a disastrous year in 2009, registering a 0.7 percent increase to 2.3 billion euros, or around $3 billion, although Franchina pointed out that skin care “has almost become the domain of pharmacies.”


The UniPro president said Italian consumers have become more focused in their beauty consumption, underlining specific product categories such as nail care, up 7.2 percent to 92 million euros, or $125.5 million. In line with sales trends, Cosmoprof will unveil a new area, dubbed Love Nails, in Hall 21.


On Hair will be housed in the selective perfumery’s former home in Hall 36 and will feature workshops from the likes of hairstylists Aldo Coppola, the Sassoon Academy, Tigi and Davines from March 20 to 21, whilst a new area, called EsthetiLand, in Halls 16 and 18, will feature treatment workshops and presentations from beauty professionals on March 20.


This year, the fair occupies a larger, 2-million-square-foot space to include 2,300 exhibitors, a 2 percent increase over last year. After a return to the fair’s folds last year, the Accademia del Profumo will host its annual fragrance awards on Friday, March 18. Additionally, peppering this year’s exhibition, a flurry of awards will be announced during the fair, including one for packaging design; La Rosa D’Oro, set to honor perfumery sales staff; a prize for innovation in the green beauty sector; a contemporary spa award; On Hair’s best hairdresser, and upcoming talent in the sector, along with prizes for professionals working in the nail care and treatment sector.


Cosmopack, the suppliers’ exposition, will run concurrently with Cosmoprof in Halls 19 and 20.

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