LONDON — PZ Cussons is dipping its toes into the spa market.

This story first appeared in the January 30, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The U.K.-based personal care and consumer goods firm announced Tuesday it acquired Sanctuary Spa Holdings for 75 million pounds, or $148.6 million at current exchange, from private equity firm HgCapital. The business includes treatment and bath-and-body lines, plus a day spa located in Covent Garden here.

“The Sanctuary business represents an excellent strategic opportunity for PZ Cussons, giving us a greater presence in the premium segment of the U.K.’s personal care market through an established and well-respected brand,” said Alex Kanellis, group chief executive of PZ Cussons plc, in a statement. “We see considerable opportunities to create further value from the Sanctuary business, through combining our new product and brand development expertise with theirs, developing the brand’s international sales and exploring opportunities to develop the spa concept further. There are also synergies to be derived, particularly in the area of supply chain.”

PZ Cussons, whose personal care portfolio includes Imperial Leather, Carex and Original Source, rang up revenues of 299.5 million pounds, or $607.2 million at average exchange, for the six-month period ended Nov. 30.

Sanctuary’s revenues for the year ended Aug. 31 came in at 26.3 million pounds, or $51.5 million at average exchange, while pretax profits came in at 3.9 million pounds, or $7.6 million.

The Sanctuary brand, which is carried in Boots the Chemists in the U.K. and Target in the U.S., represents 70 percent of Sanctuary Spa Holdings revenues. The Sanctuary Spa hosts 64,000 clients annually, according to the company.

“The iconic spa in Covent Garden underpins our brand authority and has enabled us to develop the products business into one of the U.K.’s leading body care brands,” said Alice Avis, chief executive of The Sanctuary Spa, in a statement released by HgCapital. “We have also expanded the business into international markets, with particular success in the U.S., where sales grew by 80 percent over the Christmas period.

“PZ Cussons has an excellent reputation in the industry, and we look forward to working with them to develop The Sanctuary Spa further, both in the U.K. and internationally,” she continued.

— Brid Costello

LVMH Building Up R&D

PARIS — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced it will invest 29 million euros, or $42.8 million at current exchange, in a 177,605-square-foot research and development center near Orléans, France, for its fragrances and cosmetics brands.

Dubbed Helios, the center is to be built on LVMH’s existing R&D and manufacturing site for Parfums Christian Dior in Saint-Jean-de-Braye, France. Due to be opened in 2010, the facility will unite some 250 researchers, who were previously based in various locations in the area. The space, in the longer term, will have the capacity for 280 researchers and that number could be increased to 350, if necessary.

In the new R&D facility, formulas will be developed for the 650 makeup, skin care and fragrance products launched annually by LVMH brands, including Benefit, Dior, Fendi, Fresh, Guerlain, Parfums Kenzo, Loewe, Parfums Givenchy and Pucci.

The building has been designed by French architectural firm Arte Charpentier, whose recent projects include the Shanghai Opera House. The space’s design is intended to optimize light and energy efficiency, and aims for High Quality Environmental certification, a French standard for environmentally friendly buildings. Construction is slated to begin in September.

— Ellen Groves

Nicolaï Co-founder Honored

PARIS — Perfumer Patricia Michau de Nicolaï was awarded the Chavalier de la Légion d’Honneur on Monday.

De Nicolaï and her husband, Jean-Louis Michau, in 1989 started the fragrance company Nicolaï, for which she creates scents, buys essential oils and produces fragrances.

Perfumery is part of her heritage, as de Nicolaï hails from the Guerlain family (Pierre Guerlain was her grandfather and she was coached by Jean-Paul Guerlain). She studied chemistry and went to ISIPCA, the Versailles, France-based institution specializing in perfumery.

De Nicolaï also worked at numerous fragrance suppliers, including Quest, before beginning her company. In 1988, the French Society of Perfumers awarded de Nicolaï the prize for best international perfumer.