Sitting as his employees do—in a cubicle— helps Brian Robinson, chief executive officer of TPR Holdings LLC, keep his finger on the pulse of a rapidly expanding company.
The three-year-old firm has amassed net sales of $50 million, acquired the Sweet Breath oral care line in 2010 and last year picked up five brands: hair care products from Oscar Blandi, Freeze 24-7 skin care, Zirh men’s skin care and fragrance licenses for fashion designer Reem Acra and reality star Nicole Richie. And, on July 9, the company issued a press release on its website that it had acquired a majority stake in Cargo Cosmetics, giving it entry into the color cosmetics category. It also markets FCUK fragrances.
While TPR is negotiating deals for two more brands, the Blandi, Richie and Acra projects are the liveliest. It comes as no surprise given the public’s voracity for celebrity and fashion.
Richie’s fragrance will ship to Macy’s in August and will reach Dillard’s and Nordstrom at about the same time. The eau de parfum targets 16- to 26-year-old women and may reach 2,000 stores. Robinson claims there will be 100 million impressions of the scent in the U.S. via an ad campaign — a rarity for TPR — in September issues of titles like Teen Vogue and Us Weekly, as well as catalogues. For the print ads, photographed by Anthony Mandler, Richie wears a slinky dress in front of an amber-bronze sunset, her finger seductively placed across her bottom lip.
Meanwhile, Acra’s fragrance will reach 260 doors. An October introduction at Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrods in the U.K. will precede introductions at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. Distribution is also planned for the Middle East.
Robinson contends the designer and celebrity fragrance categories are parallel in that fragrance serves as an entry for a customer into either a designer brand or a celebrity lifestyle. “Designer [scents] allow the consumer to participate in a brand when she can’t participate in the fashion,” he said. With a celebrity scent, one can have a piece of celebrity lifestyle but “she just can’t hang out with them,” he deadpans.
Designer may be hotter than celebrity, Robinson said, because “more high-end retailers want designer fragrances.”
Still, celebrity has its allure. Blandi is “always involved, testing [his] products in the salon,” said Robinson, noting his hair care assortment could be tripled in size. To kick things off, a Teasing Dust, a Pomade, a Volumizing Mousse, Color Care and a seven-shade hair color line are lined up for fall. New packaging, designed to provide an upscale, coherent look, is set for February. The brand’s distribution will remain at 1,000 stores, including Nordstrom, Sephora and Ulta.
Zirh is a brand that has been trying to find its way in recent years. Robinson dove headlong into the beauty industry by launching Zirh in 1995. He sold it to Shiseido in 2004, bought it back in 2007, flipped it in a sale to Procter & Gamble in 2009 then bought it back in December 2011. There will be “a heavy sampling campaign and online activity,” Robinson said of pumping up the silver-and-blue assortment. He added the high-end Zirh Platinum line of six items will be relaunched.
A similar tack will be taken with Freeze 24-7, but from more of a public relations standpoint. Robinson sees the launch of a neck cream called Arctic Lift jumpstarting the brand — not to mention new counters in the U.K. “Customers want to see newness from brands and that will help dramatically.”