By  on May 2, 2008

NEW YORK — Luxury skin care brand RéVive has a new owner.

Gurwitch Products, which markets the Laura Mercier color cosmetics brand, announced Thursday it acquired RéVive Skincare in a bid to widen the treatment brand's international distribution and to complement Gurwitch's upscale Mercier color line with a high-end skin care line.

Houston-based Gurwitch, which is owned by Alticor Inc., did not disclose the terms of the deal, by which Gurwitch acquired RéVive from Bays-Brown Laboratories, in Louisville, Ky. (The firm is the namesake of RéVive founder Gregory Bays Brown, M.D., a plastic surgeon.)

Market sources speculate the deal could be valued at less than two times annual sales of RéVive, which are estimated to be $25 million at wholesale.

Sharon Collier, president and chief executive officer of Gurwitch Products, said that since Gurwitch was acquired by Alticor two years ago, it had been on the hunt for a brand like RéVive.

"We had a strategy that we would acquire a brand that fit into our criteria, which is the premium, upscale market," Collier said in an interview. "We really wanted a skin care brand because we thought that would be a nice addition to Laura Mercier and we wanted a strong person [Brown] at the helm."

She added that the Mercier and RéVive brands will be in similar distribution networks, in stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom for Mercier and Neiman's, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York for RéVive.

"We know how to run that business, the upscale department store business — that's just part of our DNA and we feel we can get in there and develop strong programs to help RéVive," said Collier. She added, "We believe there's a global opportunity for RéVive that they haven't realized."

The deal calls for RéVive to be wholly owned by Gurwitch, and Brown, who is ceo of RéVive, will become chief of creative services.

"I've been ceo of RéVive by default," said Brown, "so [now] I'll be able to pursue what I really like — design, product development and distribution.

"To accomplish the vision I've had for RéVive," he added, "it takes a partnership like this — in order to make RéVive global, we needed that partner."

Gurwitch's operations will be split between New York and Houston and marketing will be housed in New York, while back-office functions will remain in Texas, Collier noted. Bays-Brown operations are expected to be shuttered within 90 days.

RéVive's sales staff is to remain separate from Mercier's and kept intact, but several new executives have been named at Gurwitch in light of the transaction.

Andrea Dinunzio, who was most recently with Neutrogena, has been appointed chief marketing officer at Gurwitch. Also, Kaye Karsch, who was with Limited Brands Inc.'s beauty unit, has been named chief product officer. Barbara Preston, who was vice president of sales for the Northeast at Gurwitch, has been named vice president of sales for RéVive.

RéVive is perhaps best known for its use of Epidermal Growth Factor, a Nobel Prize winning technology, and high price points. For instance, RéVive introduced last year a $1,500 product called Peau Magnifique, which comprises four 1-ml. vials and purports to "convert resting adult stem cells to newly minted skin cells," with an ingredient called Telomerase.

The Mercier brand, which was founded in 1996 and is carried at about 650 doors in 24 countries, is believed to have annual sales of $100 million. RéVive, founded in 1997, is in about 215 doors in the U.S. and abroad.

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