Natura Bisse Focusing on Spa

IRVING, Tex. — Natura Bisse is going back to its pampered roots — the spa.

The company is extending U.S. distribution of its luxury skin treatments beyond retailers to spas and salons, which comprise its only clientele in Spain. This month, Natura began selling through Bay Hill Spa in Orlando, Fla., and in July, the Ritz Carlton Spa in San Juan, Puerto Rico, began featuring its treatments and retail products.

Introduced to the U.S. by Neiman Marcus in 1995, Natura Bisse currently counts 75 doors in the U.S., including all 35 Neiman Marcus stores, plus Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York. It also sells to 40 doors in Mexico, including the Palacios Hierro upscale chain in Mexico City and the One and Only spa in Los Cabos.

“Our background in Spain is in professional salons — we sell to almost 8,000 in Spain,” explained Veronica Fisas, chief executive officer of North American operations, noting that facials are an integral part of feminine Spanish culture. “We are not in retail stores there — only those that have a facial room. We have 70 stockkeeping units that we sell at retail, but we have 200 sku’s that we sell to professionals.”

The company initially took the retail route in the U.S. because the spa business was not well developed, and the idea of routine facial treatments was a new concept in the U.S. But in the last seven years, Fisas pointed out, the spa business has grown 20 to 30 percent every year.

“We want to concentrate and pick really well-trained spas and be their signature facial,” noted Fisas, who is the daughter of company founder Ricardo Fisas. “Next year, we will open several, and at the most we are looking at opening 20.”

In addition to having the ability to sell more products, professional salons are an easier sell for Natura because they require less staff training than specialty stores. Natura employs 15 account executives and an equal number of aestheticians who teach store employees and hold free clinics for customers at accounts throughout North America.Broadening distribution to spas should help maintain Natura’s strong growth. Global wholesale sales are on track to swell 28 percent this year to $34.8 million, or 27 million euros, Fisas said. That comes atop 43 percent growth in 2003 to $27.1 million, or 21 million euros. Fisas declined to project sales for 2005. Founded in 1979, Natura Bisse is a luxury skin care line based on the efficacy of free form amino acids combined with vitamins and botanical extracts.

Momentum is expected to continue this fall with the introduction of Inhibit Dermafill, which has twice as many active ingredients as its predecessor plus fillers to smooth facial lines. Dermafill retails for $385 for 1 oz. and is exclusive to Neiman’s and Bergdorf Goodman until February.

Natura is also working to build momentum at Bergdorf’s with last month’s creation of “Destino Barcelona,” a skin care center that occupies 230 square feet in the beauty department on the lower level, where clients are pampered with free facials by Natura aestheticians in a private room.

“People who go to luxury retailers want advice as well as the cream,” Fisas observed. “During different seasons or if they are going to travel somewhere, skin needs different treatments,” Fisas said. “We want the customers to get the advantage of a wide range of products.”

Based in Barcelona with its North American headquarters in this Dallas suburb, Natura Bisse is also concentrating more heavily on Mexico and the Caribbean with the opening of a sales office in Mexico City earlier this year. — Holly Haber

Firmenich Sales Gain 6.6 Percent

PARIS — Fragrance and flavors supplier Firmenich reported sales of 1.98 billion Swiss francs, or $1.7 billion at current exchange, for the year ended June 30. The firm said turnover was up 6.6 percent year-on-year in local currencies and 4.1 percent in Swiss francs.

“In fine fragrance, we increased our sales despite lower sales volumes on the major retail markets of Europe and North America,” the family owned company said in its annual report. “This confirmed a further increase in our share of the fine-fragrance market, and was a promising sign of a rebound in this challenging market.”— Brid CostelloHenkel to Cut 3,000 Jobs

BERLIN — Henkel is undertaking a restructuring plan that will result in 3,000 job cuts over the next two years. The Düsseldorf-based group employs more than 50,000 worldwide. The cuts are expected to save about 125 million euros, or $166 million at current exchange, per year starting in 2007. In response to falling consumer demand, Henkel said it aims to reorganize production sites and streamline administrative departments. Besides the restructuring costs already planned for this year, Henkel expects to additionally allocate about 400 million euros, or $532 million, for restructuring measures over the next two years. “We are not talking about merely cutting costs, but about investing in sustainable structures,” said Ulrich Lehner, Henkel’s chairman. The details of the program have not been finalized. — Melissa Drier

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