SKIN CARE SALES BLOSSOM WITH THE BRITISH SPRING

Byline: Ruth Gurevitch

LONDON — British department store retailers said a scarcity of launches this year will limit sales growth to single digits — although signs that men are becoming more aware of skin care and fragrance are buoying hopes.
Nicky Kinnaird, managing director of Space NK Apothecary, feels this increased awareness has been fueled by the plethora of new men’s magazines launched in the past couple of years, such as Maxim, Men’s Health, Loaded, XL and GQ Active.
She said men’s sales are a solid part of the business at the four-store retailer of niche beauty items and fragrances. The men’s category accounted for between 25 and 30 percent of total business in 1996.
Strong sales of sports products are particularly noted around the financial area at Space NK’s city store, which caters to professional men, many of whom exercise before work or during their lunch hour, she said.
Skin care is another important category for her male customers, who favor speciality shaving products, particularly from Kiehl’s and Philosophy, as well as those companies’ treatment products.
Space NK’s male customers buy for themselves and are becoming increasingly adventurous in all the product categories, including hair care, Kinnaird said: “Men have become much more experimental when it comes to hair grooming products. Two years ago, men only bought gels, but now our customer is sampling all sorts of hair grooming products.”
She cited styling products from Aveda, pomades from Oribe and hair care products by Bumble & Bumble.
But while men are becoming more adventurous at the specialty store level, there is less change afoot in the more traditional department store arena, which continues to focus on major brands.
Department store buyers said their men’s category remains healthy but still small compared with the women’s business.
Best-selling fragrances in 1996 at the 52-store House of Fraser chain were, in no particular order: Calvin Klein’s CK One, Aramis, Tommy by Tommy Hilfiger, Klein’s Eternity and Escape for Men, Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male, Ralph Lauren’s Polo Sport and Safari for Men, Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme and Dolce & Gabbana, said Janet Saunders, the company’s associate director of perfumery and cosmetics.
Despite what Saunders describes as “fairly average growth,” she does not anticipate this year’s gains to be greater than the single-digit range.
She feels the men’s category is heavily dependent on new launches to fuel growth and that “1997 is not a banner year for launches in either the men’s or the women’s category, and this may have a negative impact on business.”
Saunders also believes that the growth in men’s publications has built an awareness of grooming, which has boosted growth in the category, particularly in those House of Fraser stores where grooming products are sold adjacent to the men’s wear department. Men’s skin care is definitely seeing good growth, Saunders said, even though it’s still a relatively small segment of the overall skin care market.
“While Aramis Lab Series and Clinique are the only two comprehensive skin care lines for men which we carry, they have seen good sales and continue to grow,” said Saunders.
Angela Creasy, fragrance buyer at Harrods, said that Acqua di Gio Pour Homme continues to be one of the store’s bestsellers, along with Jaguar, Le Male, Dunhill and Aramis.
Creasy is optimistic that business will continue to grow and is looking forward to the launch of a bath and body range from Iceberg Twice Pour Homme, along with new fragrances such as Dune for Men, Kiton, Fendi Life Essence and Diesel.
Because the men’s grooming department at Harrods is given special attention, she said, “we’ve always had a very strong men’s ‘own buy’ business.”

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