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Executive Suite: Donna Dellomo, Perfumania Holdings Inc.

Donna Dellomo, vice president and chief financial officer

Donna Dellomo, vice president and chief financial officer of Perfumania Holdings of Bellport with some of the company products on March 24, 2014. Credit: Randee Daddona

When the Bellport fragrance company Perfumania Holdings decided in 2008 to go public, chief financial officer and vice president Donna Dellomo had only a few months to prepare. She said it was easier for her than it might have been for others, because "I always managed the finances as if we were public."

Most people aren't born accountants, but Dellomo, 49, had set her sights on becoming a CFO for a public company while in high school. In 1998, after passing the CPA exam and working for a public accounting firm, she answered a blind ad in Newsday to join a $25 million company, which later grew and merged to become the $535 million Perfumania. She will be recognized this month as Financial Executive of the Year by the Long Island Chapter of the Institute for Management Accountants.

What's your business model?

We have a unique model in that we not only manufacture fragrances, but we have those fragrances that we can put into mass-market retailers, like the Walmarts and the Walgreens of the world, or consignment locations like Burlington [Coat Factory], or our own Perfumania retail stores and Internet, or a department store like Macy's or Saks.

Since Perfumania's $152 million acquisition of Parlux in 2012, the company has been absorbing extra costs from moving some operations from Florida to New York. How is that going?

We are seeing the synergies materializing . . . [We're] still consolidating some functions, but for the most part what has been done is what we set our sights on.

Why did you decide to move Parlux operations to Long Island?

We occupy 280,000 square feet of a building that's 560,000 square feet. And it's 20 minutes east of the Islip Airport. People ask, "Why would you put a distribution company on the east end of Long Island?" because everything has to go west, right? But the Nussdorf family, who are the majority shareholders, built their businesses on Long Island, and they're committed to Long Island.

You have new fragrances with Rihanna, Sofia Vergara, Jay Z and Vince Camuto. How do you attract celebrities?

You tend to recruit people out of other fragrance manufacturers -- P&G or Coty or one of the other large fragrance houses -- and those people bring those relationships with them. We've also become more successful in recruiting very positive brands because of our presence in the industry.

What industry trends do you see?

Almost every singer-songwriter has their name on a bottle of fragrance, and that trend is continuing. Overall, consumers are still pretty cautious about spending. And technology is definitely affecting the retail market because you can price out anything on a scan with your phone. We are undertaking a project to offer Wi-Fi and hot spots in our stores [to] provide a good shopping experience.

We hear so much about dishonest accounting practices. What's a good way to avoid a bad mentor and stay on the straight and narrow?

Don't be greedy. Greed is what I think ultimately gets people to do things that maybe are not the right things to do. You have to work for what you get. If it's too good to be true, it's too good to be true. You can fall in with the wrong crowd if you're very easily swayed. If you know the difference between right and wrong and you're not greedy, then I think you'll do fine. It's the ability to say no.


CORPORATE SNAPSHOT

Name: Donna L. Dellomo, vice president and chief financial officer, Perfumania Holdings Inc. in Bellport.

What it does: Manufacturer, distributor and retailer of designer perfumes, with 340 Perfumania store locations throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Employees: 1,313 full time, 361 on Long Island; 874 part time, 26 on Long Island.

Annual revenue: $535 million

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