NEW YORK — Elizabeth Arden announced late Wednesday afternoon that it had acquired the brand licenses and certain assets of Riviera Concepts Inc., the Toronto company that produces the fragrances of designers Badgley Mischka, Cynthia Rowley, Nanette Lepore, Lulu Guinness, Alfred Sung and Bob Mackie, and holds a lucrative agreement with General Motors Corp. for the Hummer brand.

“Outside of Canada, where they are based, Riviera Concepts has long used distributors for its fragrances, and we’ve been one of them outside North America for a while now,” said E. Scott Beattie, chairman and chief executive officer of Elizabeth Arden, on Wednesday. “As we worked with them, we saw global strength, and thought it would make sense to merge. We can service and develop their U.S. department store business more economically than they could. We also saw a great deal of opportunity in other markets, namely China and Eastern Europe.”

The Hummer fragrance in particular, Beattie added, has great potential. “It’s a good male business, which is strong internationally, particularly in China and Eastern Europe, where we don’t have a strong men’s brand. Also, there’s opportunity with the Alfred Sung master brand. It’s strong in North America, but not well-known outside of this area, and we would like to change that. This deal also gives us more critical mass in the duty free market.”

During a transitional period, Riviera Concepts executives will stay on board, although Adrian Ellis, president of Riviera, is expected to leave after the takeover is complete. Certain sales and marketing employees are expected to remain, said Beattie.

The acquisition dealt a blow to speculation circulating in the industry that Arden might be in play, and that Coty Inc., which has been in full-scale acquisition mode for the last year, could be in the market to acquire Arden. Beattie emphatically denied the speculation on two occasions, joking Wednesday, “The more brands we buy, the quicker that maybe we’ll buy Coty.”

Coty ceo Bernd Beetz said Wednesday that the talk of a Coty-Arden deal “is unsubstantiated” and “untrue.”

Arden’s acquisition of Riviera is not expected to curtail the launch of the first Badgley Mischka fragrance, due in stores in September. “In fact, we can really help with fall launches, particularly Badgley Mischka, from both an executional and financial viewpoint,” said Beattie. “And assuming that it does well here, the more quickly we can roll it out globally.”

This story first appeared in the July 6, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Arden’s existing brands include the licenses of celebrities Elizabeth Taylor, Britney Spears, Hilary Duff and Danielle Steel, as well as the eponymous Elizabeth Arden fragrance brands — Red Door, Red Door Revealed, 5th Avenue, After Five, Green Tea and Provocative Woman. On the men’s side, Arden’s business includes Daytona 500 and Gant scents, Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel, Halston and Halston Z-14, and PS Fine Cologne for Men. Arden also has considerable skin care and color cosmetics businesses.

Ellis was not available for comment. In a statement, he said, “It has been a pleasure to work with Elizabeth Arden on this transaction. They offer a tremendous opportunity for these brands to grow. Each brand will benefit from their global infrastructure, sales, marketing and distribution capabilities.”

William B. Chappell, an analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Capital Markets, noted, “This is an opportunity to bulk up its offering in prestige fragrance, and maybe take [the brands] to mass or international markets.”

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