PARIS — On the back of a bumper year for beauty, Hermès is preparing a crop of launches for this holiday season.

Strong fragrance sales made beauty the fastest-growing segment at the French luxury goods brand last year. And, with a launch schedule packed with limited-edition items and line extensions, Hermès beauty’s chief executive officer, Veronique Gautier, is keen to maintain growth at a steady clip this year.

She projects a sales increase of 5 to 10 percent for 2005 for the beauty division. For the first six months of this year, Hermès’ fragrance sales were up 11 percent, according to the company. As previously reported, Hermès’ fragrance business represented 5 percent of total group turnover in 2004, ringing up sales of 65 million euros, or $81 million at average exchange, in the 12-month period.

Gautier said her division’s strong performance to date was due to excellent turnouts by recently launched and existing lines, as well as positive reaction to the arrival of Jean-Claude Ellena as in-house perfumer last year.

“Jean-Claude gives an emotion that’s different from other brands,” she said. “He talks directly to the heart of a client.”

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, a unisex fragrance introduced earlier this year, has been clocking particularly impressive numbers, said Gautier. It ranked fourth in the U.K.’s Harrods department store from April through May, for example.

In France, Hermès scents ranked ninth among best-selling women’s brands at the end of June, two positions better than in 2004, and sell-through was up 18 percent, according to Gautier. In Germany, the brand ranked sixth at the close of the first half.

“We are confident,” she said.

Among novelties for Hermès is the fifth installment of the Hermessence line of scents created by Ellena, which was introduced last year exclusively in Hermès stores. Set to bow next month, the fragrance, called Osmanthe Yunnan, was inspired by a stroll through Beijing’s Forbidden City. The eau de toilette includes notes of tea, freesia, orange, osmanthus and apricot. Like the other Hermessence scents, Osmanthe Yunnan will be available as a 100-ml. edt spray for 135 euros, or $161 at current exchange. It also can be purchased in a leather sheath for 350 euros, or $418. A 15-ml. edt spray bottle of Osmanthe Yunnan will be added to the Hermessence miniatures collection, which is available as boxed sets of four.

This story first appeared in the October 21, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

By the end of this year, the collection will be available in 50 Hermès doors, up from 25 in 2004. Gautier said the line was having considerable success, racking up average sales of 25 bottles a week in every door in which it is carried.

Also on the launch agenda in the run-up to the holidays is a miniature flask of the parfum version of Eau des Merveilles, which can be worn around the neck on a leather thong. The silver-colored trinket holds 7.5 ml. of juice and will be introduced this month priced at 130 euros, or $155.

“Hermès must express itself in the pure parfum market,” said Gautier. “It’s the heart of its métier.”

Hermès will celebrate the 10th birthday of its 24 Faubourg fragrance with a refillable Saint-Louis crystal version of the scent’s bottle. Four hundred 30-ml. flacons, designed by Serge Mansau, will be available starting in November, at 1,000 euros, or $1,195.

A new men’s scent is slated for Hermès next year.

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