By  on August 27, 2007

LONDON — Farmacia Urban Healing is getting aggressive about well-being.

Starting this month, the British retailer and holistic health-and-beauty brand is strengthening its high street presence by introducing Urban Healing Pods in House of Fraser doors, expanding its existing department store concessions and revamping its stand-alone flagship here.

"There's an increasingly big group of people who want natural wellness," said Sanjay Bhandari, Farmacia's co-founder and chief executive officer. "People are looking beyond traditional beauty and cosmetic surgery."

That's why the firm began opening Urban Healing Pods, or 300- to 500-square-foot shop-in-shops in five House of Fraser doors in the U.K. starting this month. The spaces feature consulting areas complete with vitamin scanning systems, which can detect nutrient deficiencies, hormone and organ imbalances, food intolerances and the presence of toxins in the body. Initial 15-minute scans are complimentary, however, if a client wishes to have a more in-depth consultation they can choose to pay for the service. A 75-minute skin profile, for example, costs 115 pounds, or $228 at current exchange.

The pods sell a selection of Farmacia's supplements and own-brand treatment products.

"It's going to be a revolution," said Bhandari. "Department stores are ready for it."

"There is more of a focus now on being holistic and using natural products," said House of Fraser beauty buyer Debbie Beaumont-Howell. "Botox and invasive surgery are with us now, they're a part of life, but not everyone has the funds for that maintenance and not everyone thinks it's the right thing to do."

Selfridges and Harrods department stores are also upping their holistic beauty profiles, by increasing the size of Farmacia's concessions in their doors.

Farmacia will triple the size of its two-year-old space in Harrods in November to reach 3,000 square feet. Located in the store's basement, it will feature a walk-in doctor's clinic, four treatment rooms for facials and massages, juice and oxygen bars, plus a retail area.

At Selfridges' Oxford Street flagship, Farmacia will occupy a 1,200-square-foot space in the main beauty department on the ground floor beginning in February. Farmacia has had a concession on the store's fourth floor since 2001.With increased visibility in department stores, Bhandari believes leading a more balanced and healthy lifestyle will be more convenient for time-poor urbanites.

"People who have busy lives in London don't have time — they need a quick fix, and that's us," he said.

Earlier this month, the company also refreshed its Goodge Street store here, which boasts two treatment rooms in its basement. It also introduced a men's organic grooming and treatment line, dubbed Natural Man, and reformulated and repackaged its supplements collection. Known as Super Natural Nutrition Supplements, the 60-unit line is color-coded to make selecting the right product easier.

The brand's lineup also includes Spa Therapy, a line of marine-based skin and body care items, plus Non-Tox PP3, a treatment line.

Industry sources estimated Farmacia Urban Healing's 2006 sales hit about 5 million pounds, or $9.9 million, and could reach up to 8 million pounds, or $15.8 million, for this year. In four years, the company is expected to generate annual sales of 25 million pounds, or $49.5 million.

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