French Brands Enter U.K. Pharmacies

La Roche-Posay, Lierac skin care brands target British pharmacies for growth.

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LONDON — Two French treatment brands are aiming to bring a certain je ne sais quoi to British pharmacies.

This story first appeared in the August 19, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

L’Oréal-owned La Roche-Posay began rolling out here in June, while Alès Groupe-owned Lierac is slated to reach independent doors starting in September.

“We felt now was the right time to launch here,” said Laurence Pardieu-Duthil, La Roche-Posay’s managing director, adding that pharmacists here, where free access to specialist health-care professionals such as dermatologists is limited under the National Health Service, are being encouraged by the government to offer more services, including advice on skin ailments. “There is a need for dermatologist brands here.”

“Pharmacists are looking for add-on services and brands,” added Michael Jacobs, managing director of Alès Groupe U.K. Ltd. “They are looking for something to help them have a point of difference.”

That point of difference, both brands claim, is a wide range of targeted treatment products. La Roche-Posay’s lineup in the U.K. comprises 64 products from its portfolio of 100-plus items, including Toleriane for sensitive skin and Hydraphase for dry skin. Lierac, meanwhile, is introducing 40 items from its 80-unit portfolio, including its bestselling Diopti eye-care line and Hydra-Chrono, a collection of plumping moisturizers.

La Roche-Posay, which is already distributed internationally and counts France, Germany, Brazil, China, Mexico, Canada and Russia among its largest markets, made its debut in 50 U.K. pharmacies in June and aims to be in 1,000 within three years.

Industry sources estimate the brand, which is part of L’Oréal’s active cosmetics division, will generate sales in the region of 400 million euros, or $589.4 million at current exchange, worldwide this year.

“I think the U.K. can be a very big market for us,” said Pardieu-Duthil. “I’m convinced the timing is right.”

Lierac, which is already distributed in about 50 countries, will debut in about 25 independent pharmacies in the U.K. starting in September, including John Bell & Croyden and Bliss Pharmacy doors. Distribution will widen to about 100 doors within 12 months.

The brand generates annual sales of about 80 million euros, or $117.9 million.

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