By  on June 5, 2009

Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare is looking to expand its reach by bringing on board an investment partner and introducing products to cover the body from head-to-toe.

The nearly 15-year-old British skin care brand has hired U.K. financial advisory firm Baylor Klein to explore investment options. Liz Earle and longtime friend and business partner Kim Buckman currently own the brand and plan to stay involved after they secure funding.

“We have to find a partner that can add value,” explained Buckman. “The incoming investor would need to share the same passion and vision as us. They would need to get under the skin of the brand and understand what made the brand successful. It is distribution that we really need help with.”

Buckman said it was “too early to say” the amount of investment that a possible deal would entail or whether a potential partner would likely take a minority or majority stake in Liz Earle. She did suggest, however, that Liz Earle’s online sales to 82 countries have shown the brand has global appeal, something an investor could build upon.

“The American market has new opportunities for us in all sorts of ways,” she said. “We are not looking to necessarily stay in one channel. We believe that that’s what the customer wants. She is not just looking to shop in one way any longer. We want to give her the choice to shop when and where she wants to.”

Buckman and Liz Earle were in the U.S. this week meeting with retailers and promoting products. The brand made a splash here a year ago by entering Studio Beautymix at Fred Segal and is now deciding what major retailer would make sense as a next step.

In the U.K., Earle said the brand recently opened 15 doors at the retailer John Lewis and will be rolled out to all nearly 30 stores. The brand is also a staple on QVC there and has its own stores in London and on the Isle of Wight, where the company is headquartered.

The Liz Earle product lineup contains roughly 30 stockkeeping units, including a 3.3-oz. Foot Scrub for $20 and 3.3-oz. Foot Repair Moisturiser for $24 launching this month, and a 6.7-oz. Superskin Body Cream for $55, 1.6-oz. Superskin Bust Treatment for $52 and 0.5-oz. Superskin Eye and Lip Treatment for $50 launching in September. Key ingredients in the new products are East African shea butter to create rich body cream, Kigelia Africana for skin tightening, and organic pear seed extract, rosehip and cranberry seed oil for skin conditioning.

“Superskin is really aimed at aging skin, and we wanted to address all the areas of the body that are subject to aging,” said Earle. “The bust area is a real area that is affected with age, especially post-pregnancy. We are not saying it [Superskin Bust Treatment] is a miracle cure, but it has a toning and tightening effect.”

The Liz Earle brand, which is most recognized for its best-selling Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, has been resilient in the face of the worldwide economic slowdown and notched 24 percent growth in the second quarter, according to Earle. Buckman projects the brand will generate $50 million in worldwide sales this year.

“We were nervous like everybody else,” said Earle of the recession. “Skin care, like toothpaste, people don’t give up, but they reevaluate and use the very best. Consumers are savvy. If you don’t work, you will be dropped off their list.”

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