Douglas in talks to buy French perfume chain Nocibe


* Douglas makes third attempt to buy Nocibe

* Combined group would be France's No. 2 perfume seller bysales

* Deal subject to cartel approval and labour talks

* Douglas says it is open to more opportunities

FRANKFURT, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The German books-to-cosmeticsretailer Douglas Holding is in exclusive talks to buy the Frenchperfumery chain Nocibe from the private equity firm CharterhouseCapital, it said on Monday, in a deal that would make itFrance's second largest perfume seller.

Douglas, owned by the private equity firm Advent, has saidit wants to expand its perfumes business, which it sees ashaving stronger growth prospects than its confectionery,jewellery or book stores.

Douglas CEO Henning Kreke said the French perfume market wasworth more than 3 billion euros ($4.1 billion) a year.

"We've looked at buying Nocibe twice before and we've veryhappy that we're managing it at the third attempt with our newpartner, Advent," Kreke told reporters.

Kreke and Advent managing director Ranjan Sen declined tocomment on the value of the deal. Media reports last weeksuggested a valuation of between 500 million and 550 millioneuros for Nocibe.

With a combined 625 stores and 4,000 employees, the purchasewould make Douglas the second largest perfumery chain in Francein terms of revenue, behind LVMH's Sephora and aheadof Marionnaud.

Planet Retail analyst Denise Klug said the Douglas conceptwould fit well in France, but that it would need to make itsstores stand out.

"I think Sephora really is a fierce competitor. It managedto create a unique selling proposition by launching the latestretail technology instore and to perfectly link its in-store andonline offerings," she said. "The chain is very popular withhighly influential beauty bloggers."

Kreke said Douglas would look to use some of Nocibe's ideasin other countries, such as its beauty salon services, and tryto boost online sales. There was no decision yet on whether tokeep both the Nocibe and Douglas brands or merge them, he added.

The deal is subject to approval by the cartel authoritiesand the outcome of talks with labour representatives in France,Kreke said.

Douglas said in June it had 500 million euros available forthe expansion of its beauty business but the managers said onMonday this was not a final amount.

"It doesn't mean it's 500 million and that's it," Sen said.

Kreke said Douglas would "continue to look for otheropportunities, both within and outside Europe", but declined tobe more specific.

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