First quarter 2008 sales: 4.359 billion euros

GLOBALLY SATISFACTORY START TO THE YEAR
+5.1% like-for-like
+7.5% excluding North America

CONFIDENCE IN GROWTH ACCELERATION
OVER THE UPCOMING QUARTERS

ANNUAL TARGETS CONFIRMED

During the 1st Quarter:
CONTINUATION OF VERY STRONG GROWTH IN NEW MARKETS
GOOD START IN WESTERN EUROPE
TEMPORARY CONTRACTION IN NORTH AMERICA

The sales of the L'Oréal group, at March 31st 2008, amounted to 4.359 billion euros, an increase of
+2.1% (
based on reported figures).

Like-for-like (i.e. based on a comparable structure and identical exchange rates) the increase in the group’s sales was +5.1%.

The net impact of changes in consolidation, mainly as a result of the acquisitions in the United States of PureOlogy, Beauty Alliance, Maly’s West, Columbia Beauty Supply and Canan in Turkey amounted to +2.0%.

 

Currency fluctuations had a negative impact of -5.0% (at the exchange rate of March 31st 2008 the impact would be -6% for the whole of 2008).

Growth excluding the exchange rate impact was +7.1%.

 

Commenting on the figures, Mr Jean-Paul Agon, Chief Executive Officer of L'Oréal, said: In the first quarter, we achieved globally satisfactory growth: excluding North America, where the environment was exceptionally difficult, the group achieved growth of +7.5% in line with our projections.

The Rest of the World Zone continued to grow very strongly, particularly in Asia and Eastern Europe, and is fully playing its role as a powerful growth relay. In Western Europe, the start of the year is in line with our expectations in a market which remains solid.

In North America, after an exceptional 4th quarter 2007, we had been anticipating a lacklustre 1st quarter; in fact, it turned out to be more difficult because of lower footfall in department stores and larger than expected inventory reductions by our distributors. 

We are confident in our ability to accelerate our growth over the coming quarters thanks to favourable launch phasing, better prospects in North America, and continuing dynamism in the other Zones.

We are therefore able to confirm our annual like-for-like growth target range of +6% to +8%."

Sales growth by operational division and geographic zone

€ million Quarterly sales Quarterly salesGrowthGrowth
 1st quarter 2007 1st quarter 2008Like-for-likeReported
By operational division    
Professional Products542620+5.1%+14.5%
Consumer Products2,1472,147+4.7%0.0%
Luxury Products928930+5.8%+0.2%
Active Cosmetics393408+4.8%+3.8%
Cosmetics total4,0304,118+4.8%+2.2%
     
By geographic zone    
Western Europe 1,9201,939+2.3%+1.0%
North America963893-3.9%-7.2%
Rest of the world. of which:1,147 1,286+16.7%+12.1%
- Asia408464+21.9%+13.7%
-  Eastern Europe289359+25.9%+24.1%
- Latine America244243+3.3%-0.5%
- Other countries206220+9.4%+7.2%
Cosmetics total4,030 4,118+4.8%+2.2%
The Body Shop 169168+7.4%-0.5%
Dermatology(1)6973+13.2%+5.8%
Group total4,268 4,359+5.1%+2.1%

(1) Group share, i.e. 50%

Cosmetics Division
Sales trends by division and by geographic zone

* The Professional Products Division made a good start to the year at +5.1% like-for-like. The Division is continuing to win market share on all continents.

- L’Oréal Professionnel is continuing its conquest of new target groups. After targeting seniors with Color Suprême, L’Oréal Professionnel Homme is offering salons a complete product line for their substantial male customer base, particularly with Cover 5, a technological breakthrough which covers grey hair in just 5 minutes. L’Oréal Professionnel Homme is already present in some 20,000 European salons.

- Matrix is playing its part as a growth relay, and is expanding strongly in Western Europe and the BRIMC countries. The Biolage skincare and So Color Beauty hair colour lines are winning over new salons and building brand loyalty.

- Redken 5th Avenue is continuing to grow in the U.S. and in Europe in hair colour with Metallic Glam and in men's products with the Mint line by Redken for Men.

 

The division's luxury brands are expanding very strongly. 

- Kerastase is continuing to move upmarket, and is accelerating in all countries with the successful launch of Chroma Riche for hair with highlights. 

- Even further upmarket, Shu Uemura Art of Hair is gradually extending its penetration in the most exclusive European and North American salons.

 

* The Consumer Products Division achieved like-for-like growth of +4.7%.

- In skincare, the division is continuing to record very strong growth and significant market share gains. At L’Oréal Paris, Skin Genesis is confirming its major and lasting success, and the launch of Revitalift Deep-set Wrinkles has reinforced the world number 1 position of Revitalift in the anti-wrinkle segment. Initial results for UltraLift Pro-X by Garnier are promising.

- In make-up, Maybelline New York increased sales substantially with the launch of Mineral Power foundation and new formulas for Define-a-Lash mascara and Superstay lipstick. L’Oréal Paris is continuing to prove its dynamism with the launches of Glam Shine 6h and Infallible lipsticks and the solid performance of Bare Naturale.

- In seasonal products (sun protection and slimming) 1st quarter sales were affected by high distributor inventory levels because of the unfavourable season in 2007.

- In haircare, this year's major launches, for the brands Elsève by L’Oréal Paris and Fructis by Garnier, are scheduled for the 2nd quarter.

 

* At the end of March, the like-for-like growth of the Luxury Products Division amounted to +5.8%.

Growth was sustained in Western Europe, and gathered speed in the Rest of the World zone, with good scores in Asia, particularly in Japan and South Korea. The North America zone was adversely affected by market slowdowns and inventory adjustments.

-  In skincare, the Division's brands were particularly dynamic thanks to successful launches for Collagenist by Helena Rubinstein, Rides Repair by Biotherm, and Rénergie Refill from Lancôme in the anti-ageing segment. Kiehl’s and Shu Uemura posted their highest worldwide growth rates for 3 years, and are establishing core products such as Dermatologist Solutions from Kiehl’s, and Phyto-Black Lift from Shu Uemura.

 In make-up, the dynamism of 2007 is continuing, with the mascaras Virtuôse and Hypnôse Onyx from Lancôme, and Lash Queen Féline Blacks from Helena Rubinstein. The big success stories in lipstick were Color Fever Gloss by Lancôme and Rouge Unlimited Shine from Shu Uemura, and in foundations Teint Idôle Ultra and Photogenic Lumessence by Lancôme.

-    The Diesel Fuel for Life men's fragrance and the women's perfume Emporio Diamonds by Giorgio Armani again proved highly successful. Trésor by Lancôme, embodied by actress Kate Winslet, is continuing to generate double-digit growth.   

 

* Active Cosmetics achieved like-for-like growth of +4.8%, boosted by good performances in the “Rest of the World” zone, and Asia in particular, despite slower growth in Western Europe.

- Vichy is continuing to advance in the new markets, especially thanks to the success of the latest Aqualia Thermal and Vichy Homme launches.

- La Roche-Posay is maintaining 2-digit growth thanks to the success of Physiologique, its facial skincare and toiletry lines.

- Innéov is growing very strongly, confirming its European leadership in oral cosmetics sold in pharmacies.

- The roll-out of Sanoflore and SkinCeuticals is continuing in Europe.

Western Europe

With like-for-like growth of +2.3%, the start of the year in Western Europe was in line with the group's projections. They took account of the slow start made by sun protection and slimming products in mass-market outlets and pharmacies, because of the poor weather in summer 2007, which led to a build-up of inventories in distribution channels. In sell-through terms, trends in European markets remained generally favourable.

* The Professional Products Division made a good start to the year with the successful launch of L’Oréal Professionnel Homme, and the strong development of the U.S. brands Matrix and Redken which are winning over new salons.

Performances were good across all the division's brands in Germany, Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries.

* The Consumer Products Division is continuing to win market share in the skincare category, particularly with L’Oréal Paris which is confirming its number 1 position. Maybelline New York is recording strong growth in make-up.

Growth is being driven by Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. The impact of the poor summer weather on sales of sun protection products in 2007, and the start of 2008, was particularly strong in Great Britain.

* The Luxury Products Division is maintaining its sustained growth rate, thanks in particular to an excellent start to the year in France, in Great Britain, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries. Growth in Europe is bolstered by all the brands, and particularly by Giorgio Armani with the high-profile arrival of Emporio Diamonds, Diesel fragrances, and the development of the Division's new brands such as Kiehl’s and Shu Uemura.

The Active Cosmetics Division recorded contrasting sales growth scores in the 1st quarter, boosted by the rapid development of La Roche-Posay and Innéov. SkinCeuticals and Sanoflore are continuing to win over new sales outlets. Vichy however had a slower 1st quarter because of a less favourable phasing of launches.

North America

North America had a difficult start to the year at -3.9% like-for-like through a combination of three factors: an exceptionally strong 4th quarter 2007, a flat or even very negative market in some channels, and a very cautious inventory management approach by distributors.

 

* The Professional Products Division continued to increase sales in hair colour, and strengthened control of its distribution by acquiring Columbia Beauty Supply, a professional product distributor in the south-east of the United States. The strong growth of Kerastase and the expansion of Shu Uemura Art of Hair in the most prestigious American salons are strengthening the division's presence in this fast-growing segment. In the United States, the division is making encouraging progress in its battle against parallel sales.

* The Consumer Products Division recorded negative growth, reflecting firstly a 2007 comparison base boosted by the strategic launch of Nutritioniste by Garnier, and secondly a very sluggish market combined with very strict inventory management by distributors. It strengthened its leadership in make-up, thanks to the success of Bare Naturale and Infallible Lip by L’Oréal Paris, and the promising launch of Mineral Power from Maybelline. In facial skincare, Nutritioniste by Garnier is achieving strong sell-through growth thanks to the successful launch of Skin Renew Anti-Sun Damage. Launch phasing will be more favourable in the 2nd quarter.

* The Luxury Products Division sales contracted in the wake of the exceptional 4th quarter 2007, which had seen the launches of the fragrances Diesel, Emporio Armani Diamonds, and Ralph Lauren Explorer, and because of the very sharp decline in footfall in department stores, which also led to large inventory reductions. In this environment, the division strengthened its positions in skincare thanks to the success of Renergie and the launch of Absolue Ultimate Serum by Lancôme, Phytoblack by Shu Uemura and Crema Nera by Giorgio Armani. The division is consolidating its leadership in men's fragrances with the success of Diesel.

* The Active Cosmetics Division is continuing its conquest of American distribution with the roll-out of the premium brands Vichy and La Roche Posay in American drugstores and the launch of the SkinCeuticals sales website. 

New Markets

With like-for-like growth of +16.7%, the "Rest of the World" zone is again making an important contribution to the group's growth.

 

* The Asia Zone made a very good start to the year with +21.9% like-for-like growth, with +3.7% in Japan and +26.3% outside Japan. Growth is extremely dynamic across all divisions.

- Japan confirmed its positive trend, thanks in particular to the dynamism of Lancôme and Shu Uemura in luxury products, and of Kerastase in Professional Products.

- South Korea recorded double-digit growth.

- China is continuing to achieve growth rates in excess of 30%. L’Oréal Paris is continuing to achieve very strong growth, bolstered by Revitalift anti-wrinkle skincare, True Match foundation and Men Expert skincare. L’Oréal Paris has moreover significantly increased its leadership in its distribution universe.

- The ASEAN countries, particularly Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, are continuing to accelerate, thanks to the very good performance of the Garnier brand and its whitening facial skincare initiatives

 

* The East Europe Zone with like-for-like growth at +25.9%, is continuing to see very strong growth across all countries, particularly in Russia, Poland and Ukraine, but also in Slovenia and Croatia.

- The Professional Products Division is continuing to win substantial market share. Matrix is continuing its remarkable breakthrough, and Redken, although still small, is proving extremely dynamic, and more than doubled its sales.

- The growth of the Consumer Products Division has remained at a very high level. All the countries are moving forward very rapidly, particularly Russia, Ukraine and Romania.

Growth trends are homogeneous for the Division's three brands, bolstered by skincare and hair colour.

- The level of growth in the Luxury Products Division is also very high, and special mention should be made of Russia and Poland. A subsidiary has been set up in Slovenia to develop the promising markets in Romania, Slovenia and Croatia.

Diesel has made fast inroads into all markets, with Diesel Homme ranked in the top 5.

- The trend at Active Cosmetics remained dynamic. The division launched La Roche Posay in Ukraine and SkinCeuticals in Russia and Poland; initial results are very encouraging.

 

* The Latin America Zone had a start to the year which reflected contrasting trends at +3.3% like-for-like.

- Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, Uruguay and Peru are growing strongly.

- In Mexico, the market is still dynamic in sell-through terms, and the group's brands are seeing strong advances in market share. Mass-market retailers, like professional products distributors, have sharply reduced their inventories.

- Sales in Brazil meanwhile were very severely disrupted in February and March, as a new tax law came into force in the state of Sao Paolo affecting cosmetics products.

Trends should gradually return to normal in the 2nd quarter as the disruptions are temporary, and there is a strong launch programme.

 

* The Other Countries Zone achieved sustained like-for-like growth at +9.4%.

- The most dynamic region is North Africa/Middle East, driven by excellent performances in Morocco, Lebanon and the Gulf states.

- South Africa made a good start to the year, bolstered by the SoftSheen Carson brand.

- Growth in Australia is very dynamic, with the increasing success of the Elsève brand. India made a slow start to the year, because of the phasing of launches

The Body Shop

At the end of March, like-for-like sales growth at The Body Shop amounted to +7.4%.

Retail sales (1) increased by +6.4%. With a comparable store base (2), the increase in sales amounted to +1.9%.

All the geographic zones except North America made a solid start to the year, with particularly strong performances in Russia, Romania, Thailand, Malaysia, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

The success of recent launches such as the Moringa bodycare range and the new Fleurs de Printemps make-up line contributed to the dynamic growth trend.

16 stores have been opened since the start of the year, taking the total to 2442 in 59 countries.

(1)Retail sales: total sales to consumers through all channels.

(2) Retail sales with a comparable store base: total sales to consumers by stores which operated continuously from January 1st to March 31st 2007 and over the same period in 2008.

Dermatology

Galderma is continuing to expand, with like-for-like sales increasing by +13.2%.

Its core brands Differin®, Clobex®, Loceryl®, and Cetaphil®, the increase in the number of prescriptions for Differin ® 0.3%, as well as the launch of three innovative products, have all contributed to this growth.

In the therapeutic dermatology market, Epiduo®, a unique combination treatment for different types of acne has been successfully launched.

In the corrective and aesthetic dermatology segment, Galderma has launched Dysport®, a new botulinum toxin type A. This product was launched in Brazil and Argentina, with a strong acceptance from the market. Pliaglis®, a topical anaesthetic cream, has been put on the US market. An extension agreement to cover worldwide rights for this product has also been signed.

 

Furthermore, between February 26th and April 7th 2008, following a tender offer, Galderma acquired 97% of the equity of the U.S. company Collagenex Pharmaceuticals, an American pharmaceutical company which markets Oracea, the first systemic treatment for rosacea.

Important events during the period

- On January 7th 2008, L’Oréal USA acquired 100% of Columbia Beauty Supply, a distributor of professional products to hair salons in four states in the south-eastern part of the U.S.

 

- On January 23rd 2008, L’Oréal published a project for a strategic agreement with PPR with a view to acquiring YSL Beauté Holding and the Roger & Gallet brand; the agreement also relates to the obtaining of exclusive worldwide licences for the use of the Yves Saint Laurent, Boucheron, Stella McCartney, Oscar de la Renta and Ermenegildo Zegna brands.

The agreement should be signed in the coming weeks, once the institutions representing PPR’s staff have been consulted.

This operation is submitted for approval by the appropriate authorities.

 

- On March 3rd 2008, L’Oréal concluded an agreement with 3 Suisses International under whose terms L’Oréal will acquire the 50% stake in Créateurs de Beauté held by 3 Suisses International.

This agreement is subject to the customary governmental review, including antitrust clearance.

 

- On March 17th 2008, L'Oréal's Luxury Products Division announced the signing of a partnership agreement with Maison Martin Margiela for the creation of a first line of perfumes.

 

- L’Oréal, continuing the share buyback programme decided on by the Board of Directors on June 27th 2007, purchased, between January 2nd and March 31st 2008, 2,827,000 shares for an amount of €236.4m. ***
"This news release does not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy L'Oréal shares. If you wish to obtain more comprehensive information about L'Oréal, please refer to the public documents registered in France with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, also available in English on our Internet site www.loreal-finance.com. This news release may contain some forward-looking statements. Although the Company considers that these statements are based on reasonable hypotheses at the date of publication of this release, they are by their nature subject to risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated or projected in these statements."

Contacts at L'Oréal

Individual shareholders and market authorities
Mr Jean-Régis CAROF
Tel. : +33.1.47.56.83.02
jcarof@dgaf.loreal.com

Financial analysts and institutional investors
Mrs Caroline MILLOT
Tel. : +33.1.47.56.86.82
cmillot@dgaf.loreal.com

Journalists
Mr Mike RUMSBY
Tel. : +33.1.47.56.76.71
mrumsby@dgc.loreal.com

Switchboard
Tél: +33.1.47.56.70.00

For more information, please contact your bank, broker or financial institution (I.S.I.N. code: FR0000120321), and consult your usual newspapers, and the Internet site for shareholders and investors, http://www.loreal-finance.com, or its mobile version on your cell phone, http://mobile.loreal-finance.com, or its mobile version on your cell phone, http://mobile.loreal-finance.com; alternatively, call +33.1.40.14.80.50.

***

Appendix
L’Oréal sales 2007/2008
(€ millions)

 20072008
First quarter  
Cosmetics4,0304,118
The Body Shop 169168
Dermatology6973
First quarter total 4,2684,359
Second quarter  
Cosmetics3,984 
The Body Shop 172 
Dermatology90 
Second quarter total 4,246 
First half  
Cosmetics8,014 
The Body Shop 341 
Dermatology159 
First half total 8,514 
Third quarter  
Cosmetics3,849 
The Body Shop 180 
Dermatology96 
Third quarter total 4,125 
Nine months  
Cosmetics11,863 
The Body Shop 521 
Dermatology255 
Nine months total 12,639 
Fourth quarter  
Cosmetics4,045 
The Body Shop 266 
Dermatology112 
Fourth quarter total 4,423 
Year  
Cosmetics15,908 
The Body Shop 787 
Dermatology368 
Year total 17,063 

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