Byline: Pete Born

NEW YORK — While Elizabeth Arden struggles to nourish its anemic profitability, particularly on the domestic cosmetics and treatment front, the company’s fragrance side is flourishing.
Armed with a full calendar of what he refers to as “innovation,” Mark Scott, senior vice president and general manager North America of Parfums International division of Arden, has charted a chain of major fragrance launches stretching well into 2002.
His strategy is to use Unilever’s collection of licensed beauty businesses — Elizabeth Taylor, Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, Nino Cerruti and Chloe — to orchestrate a multichannel attack. “We have a wide portfolio,” he said. “We need every channel.”
For instance, a Very Valentino men’s and women’s master brand was launched at Saks Fifth Avenue March 5. It will be followed in September with the global rollout of Nino Cerruti’s Image women’s fragrance, which will be added to the previously introduced Image for men. The men’s scent was launched in the U.S. last year in 650 doors, and this spring, distribution was expanded to 1,200.
According to Tamara Steele, director of marketing at Parfums International, distribution for the Image women’s launch will be widened to 1,500 doors. Also this fall, in November, a new Lagerfeld master brand of men’s and women’s fragrances is slated for introduction in France and Germany.
Back in the U.S., the company hopes to launch a new Taylor women’s scent next spring. The Lagerfeld master brand is expected to arrive in America in fall 2001. Then in spring 2002, a Taylor men’s fragrance is a possibility, followed by another Valentino fragrance in the fall.
The strategy is to program different brands into the channels that offer the right fit. For instance, the upscale Valentino fragrances were introduced at Saks Fifth Avenue with a 90-day exclusive. The fragrances were merchandised in only 30 Saks doors. When the fragrances are rolled out, distribution will not grow much beyond 250 doors this year.
“It is the most prestigous fragrance brand we have,” said Gabriele Pungerscheg, vice president of European fragrance marketing, who oversees development of the European brands out of her Paris office. The Valentino fragrances were first launched in Italy, and Lagerfeld’s Jacko men’s scent came out of Germany.
Compared with the almost precious exclusivity of the Valentino distribution, the Taylor fragrances, which form a bulwark of department store volume for Arden, are distributed in over 2,000 doors.
A lot is riding on the development of this business. In addition to its restructuring, Arden intends to invest in the Parfums International division, president Peter Midwood said in a recent interview. “The path to growth,” Scott added, “is to give [the division] a license to innovate and to innovate rapidly.”
Pungerscheg added: “We do have a wonderful portfolio of brands. As to our long-term outlook, our first priority is to build our existing properties, the brands that we have.”
Asked about doing color cosmetics lines — considering the number of designers flocking to the category — she asserted, “We haven’t fully exploited our fragrance side.”
Executives did not break out figures, but industry sources estimate that Parfums International does more than 50 percent of Arden’s global volume, which sources have estimated at $780 million.
Volume for the division reportedly jumped 30 percent last year, and it is expected to gain in the double-digit range this year, perhaps 20 percent.
While the overall division was rocketing ahead, Liz Taylor’s venerable White Diamonds scent, first launched in 1991, was still gaining ground with a 17 percent jump.
Even with such a slim, exclusive distribution, the Valentino fragrances are expected to generate $15 million at retail this year. And according to sources, the numbers are on plan.
Deborah Walters, senior vice president and divisional merchandise manager of cosmetics and fragrances at Saks, said the Valentino brand is selling in the top 10. “We are very pleased with the results,” she said, adding, “we are particularly pleased that they launched the men’s and women’s together. It creates a great synergy.” Both scents are selling equally.
In the past, Unilever has come up with different ideas for Valentino, Walters noted. But this is the right combination. “This one has all the right pieces,” she said. “It is working.”

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