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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

L'Oréal Boosts Russian Revenues 52%

Russia keeps looking prettier and prettier for the world's largest cosmetics company.

L'Oréal Group said Thursday that its revenues from sales in Russia last year topped 100 million euros ($87 million) for the first time since the financial crash of 1998, up 52 percent year on year and the largest growth rate of any country in which the French giant operates.

Defying the global economic downturn, L'Oréal, whose group includes the popular Maybelline, Lancome and Garnier titles, said worldwide profits rose from 1.03 billion euros in 2000 to 1.23 billion euros last year on total sales of 13.74 billion euros.

Pekka Huttunen, the general director of Rusbel, the Russian subsidiary of L'Oréal Group, said in a telephone interview that part of the success story -- the company posted revenue growth of 47 percent in 2000 -- could be attributed to the growing economic and political stability since the 1998 crisis.

"I am very pleased with the results," he said.

"The crisis first cut business severely. But then, when the trends toward improving political and economical stability arrived, all businesses benefited," said Huttunen, adding that 2001 was a good year for the entire cosmetics industry.

The company's pre-crisis revenue figures were unavailable.

Nearly all major cosmetic producers, including Procter&Gamble, Unilever, the Henkel Group and Wella, are in Russia, and the competition seems to be fierce.

Huttunen said different producers are stronger in different sectors of the market.

According to MEMRB/IRI market research, L'Oréal holds the dominant position in a number of market niches in Russia, including hair colorants, cosmetics, skin care and shampoos.

Huttunen said that despite the number of problems businesses face here, such as the relatively low purchasing power of average consumers, the growth trend is strong and likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

After Russia, L'Oréal Group posted the strongest revenue growth in South Africa, where sales jumped 27 percent.