Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Co. is dipping its toe into prestige beauty with a licensing agreement that will give it full control of Korres branded skincare products in North America. The deal will go into effect January 2011.

Pericles Stamatiades, group chairman for Johnson & Johnson Beauty Care, said Korres “is an innovative brand with strong potential, and it is our entry into an important distribution channel.”

Korres, which generates an estimated $75 million in global sales — about 80 percent come from sales in Greece — is looking to “get to the next level,” said co-founder, George Korres. “J&J can bring the brand to the level it deserves,” he said.

The deal was spurred by the limitations set by operating from Athens, where the firm is based. Korres was brought to the U.S. five years ago and distributed under Korres Natural Products USA, which is based in New York and overseen by Robert DeBaker. The U.S. firm was owned by a Cyprus-based company. The distribution model involving foreign ownership is used in all of the regions where Korres sells products outside of Greece, including China, Spain and the U.K.