SALES SLUMPING IN ITALY, THOUGH AHAS STILL STRONG

Byline: AMY BARONE

MILAN — The skin care market in Italy has lost momentum following the major fall launches of such items as Lancome’s Primordiale, Helena Rubinstein’s Force C and Christian Dior’s Capture Rides, which triggered solid sales activity.
The relaunch of Juvena of Switzerland in February was a big event here, as well. Now owned by Beiersdorf, the skin and sun care lines, which include a men’s treatment called Discover, are distributed in Italy by La Prairie SpA.
According to retailers, though, Christmas sales centered on fragrances rather than color or skin care.
Cristina Bella, sales manager at the flagship store of the 12-door Servetti Perfumeries in Torino, reported that skin care sales have slowed and blames price increases from late last year for the decrease.
“Skin care sales are flat and were flat during the holiday season,” she said. “For 1996, it is difficult to gauge the market.”
Bella noted that Fruit de Jeunesse by Yves Saint Laurent is a bestseller. She also noted that sales of Revlon’s Ultima II brand grew by about 25 percent in 1995.
Helena Rubinstein’s Force C also enjoyed a good year, Bella said, as Italians gravitated to the vitamin concept and use of vials.
“Initially obsessed with alpha-hydroxy acid-based products, clients now embrace natural-based products and vitamin-enriched skin care,” she said.
Bella noted that economic instability has adversely affected this category. Clients increasingly reduce purchases of various specialized treatments and stick to a basic night cream.
“Faithful clients in the 30-to-40 age group are more inclined to buy treatment-specific products,” Bella said, “but we want to consolidate lines at the moment and hope there are fewer launches in the near future.”
Renato Castelli, partner in the five-door Castelli Perfumeries, based in Rome, reports that skin care sales grew about 20 percent in 1995. But for 1996, he projects sales of 10 percent because of recent price increases.
Clients consistently request treatments with AHAs and vitamins, Castelli said, noting that the chain’s best-selling skin care lines are Sisley, Helena Rubinstein, Estee Lauder, Dior and Lancome.
Castelli also said that specific products, like eye creams, are more commonly requested than multiuse products. Shiseido’s Benefiance and Prescriptives’ eye treatments are big sellers.
In 1995, the 53-door Coprasso Due group of Rome generated an increase of about 15 percent in skin care sales and should see the same type of gains this year, according to Stefano Biagi, the chain’s director.
“People are spending more for such treatments as AHAs, which show immediate results. They believe in miracles and return for follow-up purchases,” said Biagi. The store’s bestseller is Dior’s Capture Rides, followed by Lauder’s Resilience and Benefiance by Shiseido.
Skin care sales at the La Rinascente flagship store in Milan grew about 8 percent in 1995, and the store projects growth of 5 percent in 1996, said Silvana Cartolano, cosmetics buyer.
“We got off to a slow start this year. Sales during the beginning of 1995 were much brisker,” said Cartolano.
Bestsellers include Dior’s Hydra Controle, Clinique’s Moisture On-Call, and Lancome’s Primordiale.
“Young clients prefer multiuse treatments, but the over-40 clients prefer specific treatments,” Cartolano said.
Treatment sales at the Mazzolari Perfumery of Milan were affected by a rise in prices that hit the exclusive store this year, said Marisa Deidda, a buyer at the 600-square-meter unit.
“Before clients request details of a treatment, more than half want to know the price,” she said.
The store’s most requested items include Benefiance by Shiseido, Lauder’s DayWear, Clinique’s Moisture On-Call, Dior’s Capture Rides and the La Prairie line.

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