RENAISSANCE AIMS TO REJUVENATE DANA
Byline: Faye Brookman
NEW YORK — Renaissance Cosmetics Inc. is out to live up to its name.
The company said this week that it has acquired Dana Perfumes Corp. for an undisclosed sum. The move is the latest in an industry trend involving the acquisition of old fragrance brands that still retain some consumer awareness, and the attempt to rejuvenate them.
Thomas V. Bonoma, Renaissance chief executive officer, said he will merge its Houbigant Parfums Parquet division with Dana and move into Dana’s offices here.
“This fits with our strategy of buying brands with immense consumer awareness and invigorating them as we have with Chantilly and all Parfums Parquet scents,” said Bonoma.
Last July, Renaissance acquired 12 fragrances, including Chantilly and French Vanilla, from Houbigant Inc.’s Parfums Parquet division.
Renaissance now has an estimated volume of over $110 million, two-thirds of which are in fragrances. Dana will add another $40 million, most of it in U.S. sales, according to industry experts.
The Dana lineup includes Tabu, Canoe, Canoe Sport, Ambush, Herbissimo and Tabu lipstick. It is estimated by industry sources that Tabu is the largest of the Dana brands, with a wholesale volume of about $12 million to $14 million, followed by Canoe and then Ambush.
The scents have a rich heritage, with Tabu dating back to 1932. A new fragrance called Classic Gardenia, originally to be launched by Dana, is being rolled out by Renaissance.
Classic Gardenia spray cologne is available in a 0.55-oz. bottle, with a suggested retail price of $10, and a 1.7-oz. bottle, which will retail for $16.50. There is also a bag of at least four cups of potpourri, priced $6.50 for the bag, and a Pillar Candle at $4.95.
Bonoma confirmed that marketing muscle will be put behind the brands with the greatest consumer equity, such as Tabu. He said there will be some repositioning, especially to target younger audiences.
For example, Canoe, a men’s scent, was launched as a women’s fragrance, and Bonoma said that he’s not discounting a unisex approach, “especially with the success of [Calvin Klein’s] CK One.” Bonoma also admitted he must introduce these classic brands to younger shoppers.
“I’d say people in their 20s, not teens,” he said.
Despite being overlooked, Dana’s fragrances are widely distributed, reaching an estimated 18,000 to 19,000 doors.
Bonoma’s purchase of Dana was preceded last year by Mark Laracy’s acquisition of the Prince Matchabelli scents. Laracy, president of Parfums de Coeur Ltd., has been rejuvenating the Matchabelli scents.
Atlantis International Ltd. in West Hempstead, N.Y., is marketing Je Reviens from The House of Worth.
Renaissance Cosmetics was created six months ago by Bonoma, a former Harvard Business School professor turned entrepreneur. He also acquired Cosmar Corp., a leading nail care company.
Bonoma said his goal is to make Renaissance a $1 billion beauty company in three to five years. That may seem bold, but it is not out of character for Bonoma, who is known in the industry for being a brash, self-confident leader who works hard for what he wants.
As a result of the Dana acquisition, Renaissance will now move up in the industry rankings of mass market fragrance suppliers.
With a combined volume of $150 million, Renaissance has climbed into a distant third position behind industry leader Coty, with sales estimated by industry sources at $430 million, and Procter & Gamble, with an estimated $400 million.
Bonoma had no comment on the industry estimates.
These rankings do not include the Matchabelli or de Coeur fragrances since they are run like separate companies, although both are owned by Parfums de Coeur Ltd. of North Darien, Conn.
Although Bonoma said there will be product introductions, he expects to reach his $1 billion goal primarily through acquisitions of what he calls “neglected brands.”
Bonoma calculates that there are at least 1,200 companies in the beauty industry that have sales below $50 million that are ripe for the picking.
He sees special opportunities in the fragrance business, which is undergoing great consolidation. Bonoma says he believes the weaker firms can’t put the support and image-building muscle behind the brands needed in today’s competitive market.
“There won’t even be 12 left in the next few years,” he said. He uses Chantilly and French Vanilla, two of the Parfums Parquet scents absorbed by Renaissance, as examples of how he feels scents can be brought back to life.
More than $12 million was spent in print and TV advertising on Chantilly alone last Christmas, according to sources. Another $4 million was put behind print advertising for French Vanilla.
A source for a major discount chain, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that Renaissance put a sizable effort into Chantilly and French Vanilla last year. He said similar support behind Dana scents could help revive them.
Bonoma said Chantilly’s sell-through was about 70 percent and that French Vanilla sold through completely and that some stores were out of stock. He added that the firm is working on displays and in-store merchandising support for the brands.
One plan is to convince retailers to merchandise all Renaissance fragrances together. The firm is also adopting a category management approach to its fragrance business, where Renaissance representatives will visit stores, analyze fragrance departments, and make recommendations on how to improve productivity.
Renaissance is expected to spend at least $20 million to $25 million behind all of its scents this year.
“All these brands need,” said Bonoma, “is a restoration of trade confidence and greater consumer awareness.”