NEW YORK — Just in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics, Kiehl’s All-Sport Line has a sportin’ new addition: Non-Freeze Face Protector SPF 30.

Michelle Taylor, president of Kiehl’s and a longtime skier herself, calls the product, which will launch in February, “a virtual barrier” to the elements.

“Have you ever tried to apply traditional sunscreen on a ski lift? It’s hard. But this wax-based formula makes it easy to protect your skin, which is especially critical at higher altitudes,” said Taylor. While Taylor acknowledges that it’s for a specialized niche audience, she noted, “If you’re outdoors in the winter, particularly to the extent that professional athletes are, you’ll find the product invaluable. And because we have an active, athletic consumer base, we think it will do quite well.”

That’s no accident. Klaus Heidegger, a former ski champion and formerly a co-president of Kiehl’s before its sale to L’Oreal USA, helped develop the All-Sport line in 1988, basing the products on his years as a competitive athlete.

The product’s active ingredients include Parsol 1789, octocrylene, octisalate and octinoxate.

Non-Freeze Face Protector SPF 30 will retail for $15 for a 1.4 oz. container, and will be available in Kiehl’s full U.S. distribution of about 200 doors. While Taylor wouldn’t comment on projected first-year sales, industry sources estimated that it would do about $1 million at retail in its first year.

The Olympics aren’t the only thing in Taylor’s immediate plans — she’s also scouting locations for additional freestanding Kiehl’s stores.

“Our key focus over the past year and a half — and going forward — is to be true to our identity and heritage, and our main focus will remain developing our business in our original points of sale,” she said. “Rather than open a slew of new stores, we’d rather increase productivity in existing doors. However, we do see additional opportunities for freestanding stores.” Taylor also plans to ratchet up in-store sampling by more than 20 percent next year. “We sample about 35 products in the line,” she said. “That’s how we market our products, and that’s where our money goes. We think increasing our focus in this area will boost sales even more.”

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