Sunday, March 11, 2012

Preferred Fragrances Powers Up

We last wrote about Apra International LLC two years ago, when the unheralded outfit won a Beauty Biz Award from WWD for their budget-based launch of a fragrance by smellebrity wannabe Jordin Sparks. It amused us that the beauty industry applauded Ezriel Polatsek as CEO of Apra International, but repeatedly sued him for copyright infringement as owner of Preferred Fragrances Inc.

In November 2011, Ezriel Polatsek and his Beauty Biz Award popped up again in a press release about an investment in Preferred Fragrances, and its affiliate Apra International, by private equity firm Uni-World Capital. The deal installs former Liz Claiborne executive Glenn Palmer as CEO, and leaves company founder Polatsek as president with “a significant ownership stake,” and tasked to “drive sales and new product initiatives for the company.”

According to Uni-World Capital’s managing partner, “Preferred is at an inflection point in its growth trajectory where we believe with the proper capitalization and additions to the management team, we can help take the business to the next level of success.”

Excellent! More “designer-inspired” fragrances. Perhaps more lawsuits—and definitely more money to fight them.

Meanwhile, reporter Jessica Dinapoli with the Times Herald-Record in upstate New York files a story on Preferred Fragrances’s recent move to new, more spacious, digs in the town of Newburgh. We learn a bit more about Ezriel Polatsek.
He and his wife, Sara, started Preferred Fragrance in 2000 and grew it to about $38 million to $40 million in annual sales before the Uni-World Capital deal.
Polatsek is now aiming for $100 million in sales annually. Dinapoli ends with a pair of telling quotes:
Polatsek declined to share his “secret sauce” — the blend of oils, scents and alcohol that compose a fragrance — that helps keep production and retail costs low.

But, Palmer said, the formula has to do with getting the “top notes” — the first smell of perfume — correct.
In reality, it’s about getting the top notes and only the top notes correct. Most knock-off fragrances fall apart within minutes.

Let’s see if the Preferred Fragrances business model lasts beyond the financial top note stage.

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