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Jean Michel Karam is a man on the move.
This story first appeared in the September 6, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Since founding his IOMA skin-care brand in 2010, he has built a distribution network that is centered on Europe and stretches across the U.S. Now, Karam is reaching out to Asia while filling some holes at home.
IOMA will enter its first department store in Singapore in October, then follow up by entering six more stores by next April. He plans on revealing the names of stores at a press conference scheduled for Sept. 18 in Singapore. Likewise, distribution will be expanded to a department store in Indonesia in December or January. The brand is expected to follow up by adding three more doors in the island country. Back in Europe, Karam said he plans to open in 25 Marionnaud perfumeries in Switzerland. The launch date is set for Feb. 14.
The brand also will enter the lucrative travel retail business by the end of this year, when Karam said he plans his first airport shop. Next year, he is expected to orchestrate the opening of freestanding shops in India and enter department stores in Hong Kong in the first half of the year. Karam also is said to be scouting locations in New York to open a freestanding store next year.
IOMA, which is the reverse of the French “ a moi” (“to me”), entered the U.S. from Europe in 2011 by setting up shop in Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and in Beverly Hills. The company has since entered four more Saks doors in Houston and San Antonio, and Tulsa, Okla., to give the brand a foothold in middle America, Karam noted. The fourth Saks door is in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Karam described the year-and-a-half rollout in the U.S. as a year-and-a-half laboratory “to get the formula right.”
He will take another step in that direction next week with the U.S. launch of IOMA Youth Booster, a $220, 1.7-oz. antiaging cream that is packaged with a portable electric microsensor device that allows a user to measure whether her skin has the proper level of hydration. The skin-care product is designed to moisturize, detoxify and regenerate skin cells while provide protection from UVA and UVB rays. The microelectromechanical systems sensors housed in the cap of the bottle are a portable version of the diagnostic machines that Karam has designed to be used in retail installations. Those large, store-bound machines are designed to use high-resolution imaging to diagnose the condition of skin on seven criteria ranging from moisturization, redness, UV damage and bacterial buildup to clogged pores and wrinkles. The basic IOMA skin-care brand consists of seven products geared to tackle specific problems of dry skin and UV damage, fine lines, wrinkles and lack of firmness, redness, bacterial infections, shine on oily skin and dark spots. There also is a body-care line and a bespoke collection.
Executives declined to discuss figures. But industry sources calculate that in the first year that Youth Booster is on counter in the six Saks stores in the U.S., the whole IOMA line will be generating $2 million annually.
In France, where IOMA is sold in 520 Marionnaud and Beauty Success perfumeries, the business is approaching $10 million at retail this year, according to industry estimates. In Spain, the brand is carried by 100 luxury health and beauty stores. Harrods sells it in the U.K., and the brand is distributed in 64 Marionnaud perfumeries in Austria. A total of 92 ICI Paris perfumeries carry IOMA in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany. In the Ukraine, six Bomonde perfumeries carry the brand.