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L'Oreal says China looks beautiful

L'OREAL said yesterday sales in China last year jumped almost 30 percent on a year ago and it will increase investment in the country as China outperformed markets in the United States and Europe.

The world's largest cosmetics maker said full-year sales rose 27.7 percent year on year in 2008 to 6.95 billion yuan (US$1.02 billion) in China, after rising 30 percent in 2007.

It is the eighth consecutive year the company witnessed double-digit growth in China, making China the seventh largest market for L'Oreal and the largest in the Asia-Pacific. Its market share in China lifted to 10.5 percent last year from 9.3 percent in 2007.

"2008 was a challenging and eventful year. Despite an adverse economic environment, we managed to achieve an honorable growth in sales and market share. This shows the strongly adaptable and sustainable nature of our business model in China," said Paolo Gasparrini, president of L'Oreal China.

The French company said it would develop more mass-consumer goods to grab a bigger market share and boost sales during the downturn.

Mass-market products better weather the economic recession -- women apparently spend on affordable luxuries as a substitute for more expensive items like clothing and jewelry during times of economic uncertainty.

L'Oreal will introduce its high-end pharmaceutical and herbal brand Kiehl's into China this July.


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