Now that it has cemented its position in fragrance, Coty is poised to begin building another pillar to its beauty business in the U.S.

This story first appeared in the December 21, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The company plans to bring back the Lancaster skin care brand, which exited the U.S. in 2002, to American department and specialty store doors beginning in March.

“The Lancaster brand has always been near and dear to Coty; it’s been one of our cornerstones,” said Dennis Keogh, senior vice president of U.S. marketing for Coty Prestige. Indeed, Coty’s U.S. prestige business operated under the Lancaster name until January 2006, although the skin care of the same name had exited the market four years prior. “Our strategic direction at the time (we exited the U.S. with Lancaster) was to concentrate on fragrances and to make that our number-one business. Now that we have accomplished that, it is time to spread our wings and create a more balanced portfolio.”

That portfolio, said Keogh, will evolve in several ways. “We will grow existing brands, such as Lancaster; we will acquire brands [as Coty did last week when it purchased Del Labs and its nail care businesses] and we will create new brands.”

The Lancaster brand will be reestablished in the U.S. with one of its European bestsellers, 365 Cellular Elixir, first launched in Europe in September 2003.

The serum’s key ingredient is the proprietary RFP Complex, a cocktail that includes green tea, green coffee, Mediterranean rosemary and cherry. It is teamed with the brand’s exclusive Mediterranean Complex, a mixture that includes fig, sugar melon and pomegranate. These ingredients are said to strengthen and moisturize skin, as well as provide antioxidant benefits. The components are teamed with DNA Action Complex, a proprietary combination of photosomes and ultrasomes, said Leonhard Zastrow, senior vice president of research and development at the Monaco labs owned by Coty. During the day photosomes are activated by visible light to slow down DNA damage caused by stress, while at night Ultrasomes III B works to support the skin’s natural DNA repair mechanisms, said Zastrow, adding that the serum mimics natural processes in the skin.

The serum is designed to be used twice daily in conjunction with a moisturizer, said Karen Pouey, vice president of international marketing for Coty France. “This is the first serum designed to repair DNA in all types of skin and all ages,” said Pouey.

In the U.S., two versions of the serum will be sold — the original fast-absorbing serum and a lighter-weight version designed for summer use and delicate skin, said Yvette Gradiski, vice president of cosmetics category development for Coty France. Each retails for $95 for 1.7 oz.

The product’s tag line is “Youthful skin…is it in your DNA?”

Initially, Lancaster’s distribution in the U.S. will be very targeted, said Keogh, with about 300 department and specialty store doors planned for the March launch. Even at full distribution, Lancaster is unlikely to expand beyond 1,200 U.S. doors, Keogh said. Retailers including Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Henri Bendel, as well as selected Web sites, are slated to carry the brand.

While none of the executives would discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that 365 Cellular Elixir would do $5 million to $7 million in the U.S. in its first year on counter.

National print ads are planned for the launch and TV is a possibility, although the media plan is still being finalized, noted Keogh. A major online component is also planned.

The Lancaster brand was established in Monaco in 1946.