By  on October 5, 2007

IRVING, Tex. — Ricardo Fisas, founder of Natura Bissé luxury skin care, is passing the torch to his children just as the company is about to introduce one of its most unusual products.

"Natura Bissé was like an aircraft, and my daughters, son and sons-in-law have learned very well how to fly it," said Fisas, 78, during a visit here.

The second generation has long worked in the business, which Fisas started in Barcelona in 1979 on the theory that proteins improve the texture and appearance of skin. The company is now an international enterprise offering more than 600 treatment products with global retail sales eclipsing $90 million this year. Eschewing advertising, Natura invests heavily in research to develop innovative products.

"It's the only way we can compete with the big brothers," Fisas said.

There's already a buzz about the Diamond Magnetic body treatment bowing Nov. 1. The cream, black from bits of iron and sparkling with diamond dust, is intended to rejuvenate the body when a magnet passes over the skin, stripping the iron to create a negative magnetic field and leaving a twinkling sheen. It was inspired by ancient and modern theories of magnet and gem therapy.

The dramatic treatment was introduced as a perk for celebrities during Oscar week, followed by small previews with top Neiman Marcus shoppers that yielded 1,000 pre-sold units. Diamond Magnetic will retail for $270 for 9.5 oz. The concept is so new that the company doesn't have a sales projection.

Like most things at Natura Bissé, the succession decision was a family affair. Fisas polled his children and their spouses, who elected Veronica Fisas, the eldest, to assume her father's role as chairman, president and worldwide chief executive officer at headquarters in Spain.

For the past six years Veronica Fisas had been building business in North America as ceo of Natura Bissé here, with her husband, Joaquin Serra, serving as chief operating officer. Serra's new role in Barcelona is ceo of the Spanish market, where the brand has 6,000 doors.

Patricia Fisas, former director of marketing, moved to Texas last month to fill her sister's shoes as head of the U.S. operation. Her husband, Jose Borrell, shifted from chief financial officer in Barcelona to the same role in the U.S. division. The transition was seamless: Fisas, Borrell and their four children simply moved into the house formerly occupied by their relatives.Patricia Fisas will continue her sister's development of the brand in the U.S., where Natura will do $14 million in retail revenue this year against $12.5 million in 2006.

"We are growing the business that we already have with Neiman Marcus, which is 80 percent of the business, and in six Barneys New York stores and Bergdorf Goodman and some independents," Patricia Fisas said. "We also oversee Mexico, where we are opening a Destino Barcelona treatment room at Palacio d'Hierro in October. And we just launched Glyco Extreme Peel and we are launching Diamond Magnetic, which will be huge."

Gyco Extreme Peel, which began shipping in late August, is a high-potency gel with 50 percent alpha hydroxy acids plus other active ingredients to exfoliate and stimulate the creation of new skin cells. The company claims that the $225 1-oz. serum has a cumulative exfoliating effect yet features a neutral pH balance that is gentle on the skin.

Patricia Fisas also aims to add accounts with fine specialty stores that can handle Natura's lofty price points, which reach to $675 for the 2-oz. Inhibit-Tensolift wrinkle cream.

Her brother, Ricardo Fisas Verges, remains executive vice president in Barcelona.

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