BORGHESE: MAKING SCENTS OF LOVE

Byline: Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — In launching La Carezza D’Amore, Borghese’s first fragrance since she took the helm of the business, Georgette Mosbacher hopes to build on the turnaround effort she began more than a year ago.
Mosbacher, who joined Borghese Inc. about 2 1/2 years ago as a consultant and a year later came on board full time, is candid about the fact that the company’s restructuring over the past 1 1/2 years has been a painful one, but said that the company is well on its way to health and that this fragrance will be a step in that process.
The restructuring involved closing 500 of the brand’s original 1,000 doors and cutting and replacing staff, including president and chief executive officer Teresa Townsend, who left in July 1999. Mosbacher holds a “substantial equity stake” in the company, while the rest of the company is retained by the original group of Saudi investors who had purchased it from Revlon in 1992.
The brand is definitely on the mend, said Mosbacher. “You’re seeing the new Borghese now,” she said, adding that the company saw double-digit growth in the first quarter. “Our inventory is clean, our line has been pared down and we’ve opened our Web site for training our associates. This will be the first quarter in which everything is right on.”
La Carezza D’Amore (“The Touch”) builds on Borghese’s Italian heritage, as well as the success of an existing Borghese fragrance, Il Bacio (‘The Kiss.”) “I like to call La Carezza D’Amore the second scent in my Affection Collection,” said Mosbacher. And she’s not done yet: “There are a lot of other sexy Italian words for love out there, and there’s a lot of potential in the fragrance business. There will definitely be more fragrances coming from us!”
La Carezza D’Amore’s rich floral has top notes of green floral and clover buds, Italian white carnation and fuchsia. The heart includes white night-blooming jasmine, Bulgarian rose, Moroccan white tuberose and white lily of the valley, and the base is a blend of woodsy, musky tones that include sandalwood, patchouli and Corsican cypress oil. The juice was done by Drom Fragrances International.
The new scent’s lineup is tight: a 1.7 oz. eau de toilette spray for $37.50 and a 7-oz. body lotion for $28. The company’s spring cosmetics line was just as targeted, with just 14 stockkeeping units: five lip colors, two lip pencils, one eye pencil, two eye trios, two blushes and one multipurpose bronzer. A large part of the decision to keep collections very edited, Mosbacher said, was tied to one of the roots of the company’s financial problems: an out-of-control number of stockkeeping units. When she came on board, for instance, there were 400 lip sku’s.
“That doesn’t mean that we won’t add items, but we’re making decisions carefully to ensure that everything is right for the company,” said Mosbacher.
The company no longer does national advertising. “We’re still putting all of our money back into the company,” said Mosbacher. And La Carezza D’Amore is no exception. There will be local newspaper advertising, she said, as well sampling and a completely revamped counter presentation that is beginning to roll out now.
“Our counters were tired and confusing,” Mosbacher said. “We’ve cleaned all that up and we’re rolling it out internationally as well. We’ll have visuals that incorporate our Tuscan roots and a very clear image of who we are.” The fragrance will roll out to just over 500 U.S. doors later this month and will go global this fall.
Mosbacher’s cost-cutting is evidently paying off; it is expected that after losing money for years — some estimates say it lost as much as $15 million a year for several years before Mosbacher arrived — and being revenue-neutral last year, the company will do close to $80 million in retail sales this year. While she wouldn’t comment on how large a piece of the business La Carezza D’Amore would add, industry sources said it could do $10 million or more at retail this year.
Mosbacher is also focusing on building the international business. While about 80 percent of the company’s business is currently done in the U.S. and Hong Kong, she sees significant potential for the rest of the world, especially Europe — “We’re only in five countries there, so clearly, there’s a real opportunity there, and we’re also expanding in Asia,” she said. She’s also just signed a deal with a Mexican distributor that will take Borghese there later this year.