By and  on May 19, 2008

LONDON — Ciaté is polishing its plans for national and international expansion.The London-based nail care brand plans to open shops-in-shops in Selfridges department stores in the U.K. and four stand-alone franchise stores in Saudi Arabia this year. Openings in the U.S. and Japan are also in the pipeline for the next three years.Founded by manicurist Charlotte Straughan in 2005, the brand has focused on supplying products for professional use in salons to date, and selling through a network of retail accounts, including Superdrug and in the U.K.Ciaté is to unveil a 160-square-foot shop-in-shop, which Straughan dubs a spa pod, in each of Selfridges' three doors in the U.K. in August. Plans call for the spaces to be located within the stores' beauty departments, and they will feature retail areas as well as treatment rooms offering manicures and pedicures."We have called it a spa pod because we wanted to get away from the whole nail bar concept with lots of pumping music and people talking to you," she said, adding Ciaté's treatment rooms will feature intimate lighting and soothing music. "We want it to be quiet, relaxing and private."Straughan, who founded Ciaté to supply a chain of nail salons and training academies she opened in Ireland, in which she still holds a stake, is also planning to increase the brand's international exposure.Already distributed in the U.K., Ireland, Finland, South Africa and the Middle East, Ciaté will broaden its reach in Saudi Arabia next month when it opens its first stores in Jeddah and Riyadh via a franchise agreement. The 3,000-square-foot spaces will boast treatment rooms and retail areas. Two additional doors are scheduled to open in the Middle East by yearend.Straughan said she is working on a similar agreement with a franchisee in Japan and plans to enter the U.S. within three years.She forecasts the brand's turnover will increase fivefold within that time frame to reach 10 million pounds, or $19.6 million at current exchange.Ciaté's lineup comprises 325 stockkeeping units, including professional nail care equipment, body scrubs and moisturizers, as well as 35 shades of nail polish, dubbed Paint Pots.Retail prices range from 3.95 pounds, or $7.73, for a 1.2-g. White Tip Trick Nail Whitening Pencil to 15.25 pounds, or $29.86, for a 250-g. jar of All Scrubbed Up Walnut and Sea Salt Foot Scrub. Paint Pots, which are sold in 15-ml. curved bottles shaped to fit comfortably into the palm of a manicurist's hand, are priced at 7.50 pounds, or $14.68.To bolster brand recognition internationally, in March Straughan tapped Kimberly Stewart to act as an ambassador for Ciaté.The socialite appears in marketing materials for Paint Pots, including images used on Ciaté's Web site and e-tailing site The brand will also bow on later this month."It was important for us to find someone with global appeal," said Straughan. "Kimberly is groomed but also is a bit of a rock chick."— Lucie GreeneBaxter's New FlameMen's grooming brand Baxter of California is getting into home fragrance. The firm has partnered with candle maker Joya for a trio of candles that is set to be introduced next month.Packaging for the candles was designed by Marc Atlan, who is known for his packaging design work on Comme des Garçons fragrances, as well as for Helmut Lang and Yves Saint Laurent.The outer carton of the Baxter candles, which is white with a raised dot pattern, uses information — printed in bold, black typeface — about the candles as a key graphic. The glass that holds each 9-oz., $45 candle is decorated with black dots and more candle copy, and the trio comprises three scents: Cassis Noir, Tubereuse Noir and Jasmin Noir.Baxter is carried at about 200 stores in the U.S., a distribution network that primarily includes independent boutiques.— Matthew W. Evans

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