A.S. Watson Buys Majority Stake in DC
PARIS — A.S. Watson Group, the retail division of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., said Monday it has acquired a 65 percent stake in Ukraine-based health and beauty chain DC. The acquisition, subject to government approval, will mark A.S. Watson’s first entry into the Ukraine.

“DC is the largest chain in the country in terms of store number and the only nationwide health and beauty retail chain in Ukraine,” A.S. Watson said in a statement. “It is operated under the format of a convenience drugstore, offering a comprehensive mix of personal-care and toiletry products.” Through the deal, A.S. Watson Group will also acquire shares in Asnova Holding, a wholesale and logistics firm.

A.S. Watson’s managing director, Ian Wade, said in the statement the firm plans to double DC’s door count in the near future, from today’s network of 99 stores.

“As the leading health and beauty chain in the Ukraine, DC presents strong potential for the group’s long-term development in Central and Eastern Europe,” he said.

DC’s management team will remain the same.

This deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions by A.S. Watson, including Russian health and beauty chain Spektr Group, France’s Marionnaud Parfumeries, the Netherlands’ Portegies drugstores and Malaysia’s Apex Pharmacy.
Ellen Groves

ITF, Orlane Reach Distribution Deal
MILAN — ITF, the fragrance manufacturer and distributor based in Lodi, Italy, has inked a distribution deal for the French market with Paris-based Orlane, a subsidiary of Kelemata, which is based in Turin, Italy.

Orlane will handle ITF’s Roberto Cavalli and Ferré fragrance brands in France as a result of a recently finalized, three-year renewable distribution agreement that’s set to begin in September.

The move is designed to consolidate the French market for the Roberto Cavalli and Ferré fragrance brands, according to ITF president Roberto Martone. He said the deal would eventually expand distribution of Roberto Cavalli fragrances in France from 650 to 1,600 doors, and distribution of Ferré fragrances in France from 300 to 1,100 doors. Plans call for the expansion of the two brands to take place over the next three years.

This story first appeared in the July 18, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We are happy to have signed the deal with another Italian company that understands our philosophy,” said Martone, “and the new strategy is sure to bring success.”
Stephanie Epiro

Agon to Receive Legion of Honor
PARIS — Jean-Paul Agon, chief executive officer of L’Oréal, is among industry figures slated to receive Legion of Honor awards of merit from the French government. Recipients were just informed by the government, but each must make their own arrangements for bestowment ceremonies. Also cited for recognition were couture embroiderer François Lesage, Patricia Barbizet, director general of Artemis, and Ines de la Fressange, director of Roger Vivier and a former Chanel model.

Bare Escentuals Plans IPO
NEW YORK — Having amassed legions of devotees, Bare Escentuals Inc. plans to go public.

On June 30, the beauty firm — which has a portfolio that includes Bare Escentuals cosmetics, I.D. Bareminerals skin care and the professional skin care line MD Formulations — filed a registration statement with the SEC for an initial public offering of its common stock. The planned IPO is expected to generate net proceeds of about $231 million. The company stated in the SEC filing that it intends to use $229.7 million of the net proceeds from the offering to repay a portion of its debt. Bare Escentuals plans to apply to list its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol BARE.

Standard & Poor’s Rating Service stated Friday that Bare Escentuals’ planned IPO has no immediate impact on the rating or outlook on the company.

The company continues to cement its standing within the increasingly competitive beauty industry. Over the last five fiscal years, sales have surged 87.5 percent on a compound annual basis. It sells its wares in 28 company-owned boutiques, some 290 retail locations — including Ulta and Sephora — and 900 spas.
Molly Prior

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