Byline: Melissa Drier

DARMSTADT — International sales were particularly buoyant for the Wella Group in 2000, growing 23.2 percent and now accounting for 74 percent of the German hair care giant’s total sales.
Wella’s consolidated sales for 2000 rose 19.1 percent to $2.5 billion. All dollar figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.
Earnings before interest and taxes increased by 26.7 percent to $202.3 million. Net profits for the year moved ahead by 25.8 percent to $89.5 million. Excluding a one-time calculatory tax effect, net profits would have surged by almost 40 percent, the firm said.
In the professional division, hair color rose 30.7 percent. The division as a whole saw sales rise 18.4 percent to $1.2 billion, and gained additional market share.
The retail division saw growth of 15.3 percent to $819.2 million, or 33 percent of group sales.
The cosmetics and fragrances division, organized as a holding company under Cosmopolitan Cosmetics GmbH, saw sales surge by 27.6 percent to $499.5 million. It now represents 20 percent of total sales, up from 18.6 percent in 1999. Wella attributed the division’s strong performance to new launches, particularly of the Alfred Dunhill, Gucci, Anna Sui, Mexx, Bruno Banai and Naomi Campbell brands.
At Wella’s annual general meeting, scheduled for May 22 in Frankfurt, the supervisory board is expected to recommend a dividend increase from .36 euro to .44 euro for ordinary shares (plus 22 percent) and from .38 euro to .46 euro for preferred shares.
For 2001, Wella is forecasting double-digit sales growth and a disproportionate rise in earnings before interest and taxes. Sales in the first two months of 2001 kept pace with last year’s double-digit increases, and earnings have developed above plan, the group said.