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Florida wooing Bellport-based Perfumania

Bellport-based Perfumania Holdings Inc., a producer and seller

Bellport-based Perfumania Holdings Inc., a producer and seller of designer fragrances, is being courted by Florida for a possible relocation there. Above, a Perfumania retail store. Credit: Handout

Florida has its eyes on Bellport-based Perfumania Holdings Inc.

Last month, Florida economic development officials began courting the company, which produces and sells designer fragrances, said Michael Katz, chief executive and president. Florida approached Perfumania about a week after it acquired Parlux Fragrances Inc. a designer perfume company based in Fort Lauderdale.

The discussions are in the very early stages, Katz said, and Florida officials have yet to present any package of incentives to entice the company to relocate.

Perfumania Holdings may ultimately decide to stay put, but Florida's overtures show how aggressive development officials in other states can be when it comes to wooing Long Island businesses.

"I don't want to say that New York State has totally ignored us, because that would be unfair," Katz said. Perfumania got economic incentives when it settled in Bellport several years ago. "But when companies come to a crossroads and acquire an entity outside of New York, it's just interesting how other states are so much more proactive."

Florida officials also indicated they are interested in Quality King Distributors Inc., a separate, privately held wholesale distributor owned by the Nussdorf family, which owns about 55 percent of Perfumania, Katz said. Quality King Distributors, a wholesale pharmaceutical and health and beauty products company, shares a 560,000-square-foot Bellport facility with Perfumania and has operations in Ronkonkoma, said Katz, who also is executive vice president there. The two companies employ a total of about 1,200 workers on Long Island.

New York State officials want to keep those jobs here.

"The state has a strong history of working with the company to help them grow and create jobs on Long Island," said Jason Conwall, a spokesman for Empire State Development Corp. "And we look forward to continuing to build on that relationship to keep 1,200 vital jobs here in New York."

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Broward County's economic development organization, said it wasn't aware of discussions with Perfumania, but the group often works with companies using a project name and isn't aware of the actual business name early in the process, an executive there said.

This isn't the first time Florida has wooed Perfumania. The company had been based in Sunrise, Fla., where it still has an office and warehouse. Florida officials made an aggressive pitch to keep Perfumania's corporate headquarters there after the Nussdorf family, whose private business was located on Long Island, bought a controlling interest in Perfumania in 2004.

"We got chased very hard," Katz said.

Eventually, company officials decided it didn't make economic sense for Perfumania's headquarters to stay in Florida back then.

In general, "it's cheaper to live and do business in Florida than it is on Long Island," Katz said. But company officials will have to weigh many other factors against the economic incentives offered by Florida officials once those become clear, he said.Perfumania Holdings officials intend to contact both New York State and local officials after learning more details about any possible relocation package. "As a public company we have an obligation to investigate where we should be located from an economic perspective," Katz said.

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