Solid performance through the first nine months of the year strengthened L’Oréal’s global leadership in beauty, although unexpected inventory reductions in North America impacted its third quarter. Elizabeth Arden also reported declines in North America as its fragrance business went up against significant launches from the prior year.

For the three months ended September 30, L’Oréal Group reported revenues of $7.26 billion, down 0.8%. On a like for like basis, sales grew 4.1%. In North America, the beauty firm reported that quarterly sales fell 2.7% to $1.71 billion or up 0.6% like for like. L’Oréal CEO Jean-Paul Agon said the Consumer Products Division, which includes L’Oréal Paris and Maybelline brands, was hurt by a market slowdown to which “retailers overreacted.” Still, sell-through in the U.S. mass market has been up 5%, outpacing category growth of 2.2%, pointed out Jean-Paul. Highlights for the division include the successful global rollouts of L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil and Garnier Olia hair color, along with strong sales of Maybelline lipstick and nail color.

L’Oréal Luxe enjoyed a sales gain of 2.7% or 5.9% like for like in the quarter, with Kiehl’s, Clarisonic and Urban Decay “growing very strongly.” “Since the start of the year, L’Oréal has been winning market share across all divisions and geographic zones,” stated Jean-Paul. Developing markets grew 4.4% on a reported basis, or 9.4% like for like over the nine months. The BRIC regions performed particularly strong.

For the nine months, L’Oréal posted revenues of $23.63 billion, up 2.9%, or an increase of 4.9% like for like. Depreciating currencies, including the U.S. dollar, impacted results. At constant exchange rates, sales grew 6%. Net income at Elizabeth Arden Net slid to $1.7 million from $2.2 million, relating to the Elizabeth Arden brand repositioning and restructuring activities. Sales for its first quarter dipped .3% to $343.6 million in the June to September period, or up 0.6% on a constant basis.

Net sales for the international business rose 5.3% to $118.9 million or up 7.2% on a constant basis. In North America, net sales fell 3% to $224.6 million. Due to uncertainty in the U.S. market, Elizabeth Arden widened its second quarter guidance to $1.30 to $1.60 per diluted share. “We see pockets of strength in mass, but it is not consistent,” said E. Scott Beattie, CEO.

Scott outlined three focus areas: the repositioning of the Elizabeth Arden brand; expansion of its fragrance business internationally and improving its U.S. mass fragrance performance.

In other news, the Elizabeth Arden brand grew 11% in the quarter, with skin care up 10%, driven by a 23% jump in Prevage. A prototype Red Door salon and shop in Union Square will open in November offering customized services including a new color match foundation. To promote its celebrity scents for holiday there will be a multi-prong digital tie-in including the opportunity to receive a personalized message from your celebrity of choice. The company also welcomed Eric Lauzat, formerly of L’Oréal, as its new executive vice president and general manager of International.