NEW YORK — Japanese beauty marketer Albion is serious about building Paul & Joe cosmetics in the U.S.

After initially kicking off the French sportswear label’s beauty foray in Asia a year ago, during which time the brand has reportedly registered $5.5 million in worldwide retail sales, Albion has just opened a New York sales office and is gearing up for a slow build into limited distribution here.

This story first appeared in the April 18, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Masaco Toyoda is directing the U.S. operation, which is called Albion Cosmetics America. Aki Wagai, who is regional manager for the international business division of Tokyo-based Albion Co. Ltd., is overseeing the U.S. unit from Japan. Both operations fall under parent Kose Corp.

“We’re going to be careful about spreading distribution too quickly,” Wagai said while discussing the debut of Paul & Joe cosmetics in the U.S. The brand will reach Bergdorf Goodman early next month, according to Wagai, who is targeting an additional handful of doors in the U.S. this year. She declined to name specific retailers until distribution deals were inked. “We want to establish a consumer base first, then expand distribution,” Wagai said.

The U.S. plan for next year calls for as many as 40 doors here, according to Wagai. As reported, sources have indicated the cosmetics line could do between $1 million and $1.5 million in first-year retail sales in the U.S.

The brand is in 29 doors worldwide today. Elsewhere internationally, Wagai anticipates opening in two Harvey Nichols doors in the U.K. this summer and a Printemps door in France this fall. Plans to open in Taiwan exist but have yet to be finalized.

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