Ben Van de Bunt, a 16-year veteran of Guthy-Renker who was recently named its co-chief executive officer with Kevin Knee, is charged with navigating the modern realities of a diminished economy, increasing consumer reliance on the Web and unceasing globalization to keep the U.S.’s largest infomercial company in its top spot.
In an interview Tuesday, Van de Bunt, a 47-year-old former lawyer and part owner of Guthy-Renker, acknowledged the Palm Desert, Calif.-based company was surprised by the economic collapse and will register a rare top line dip this year. But it has positioned itself for 12 percent bottom line growth this year — and to resume both bottom and top line growth starting next year. He estimated Guthy-Renker’s revenues to be $1.5 billion in 2009, down around 8 percent from the year before.
“We, like every other company, have tightened everything,” said Van de Bunt. “We cut costs and became more efficient. We are really trying to focus on staying efficient and trying to grow at the same time.”
A major growth engine will be infomercials overseas. In November, Guthy-Renker launched in India, and Van de Bunt said the company is weeks away from launching in Russia. Guthy-Renker already has a presence across Europe, Asia and Australia, among other places. International business makes up about 30 percent of the company’s total sales, according to Van de Bunt.
“I am hoping that our domestic business makes it extremely difficult for that 30 percent to grow on a percentage basis, but I think it will continue to grow,” he said. “Our systems and our approach are unusual and extremely effective in a lot of countries, where alternatives are few.”
Van de Bunt said Proactiv, Guthy-Renker’s largest brand, is stable in the U.S., where as a leader in the acne segment it has become a punching bag for numerous competitors, but is expanding globally. Meaningful Beauty by Cindy Crawford is Guthy-Renker’s second-largest beauty brand, having surpassed third-place mineral makeup brand Sheer Cover by Leeza Gibbons in the past year or so. Chaz Dean’s Wen hair care line and skin care line Principal Secret by Victoria Principal are the next largest beauty brands in the Guthy-Renker stable.
Van de Bunt described himself as “cautiously optimistic” about the Heidi Klum-fronted skin care line In an Instant, which was introduced this year, and Guthy-Renker has renewed Klum’s contract for another two years. Van de Bunt said infomercials for hair care line Chris McMillan Hair and skin care brand Ice Elements are “still in the works.” Guthy-Renker is planning to launch infomercials for a new hair and scalp brand called Salon Silky with “Dancing with the Stars” co-host Samantha Harris this fall, and will test three new brands next year within the eyebrow, skin care and acne categories.
Historically, Guthy-Renker’s strength has been handling consumers via the telephone, but Van de Bunt said the amount of inbound calls or inquiries now on the phone is “pretty similar” to the amount on the Internet. Guthy-Renker is adjusting in response and upgrading the consumer experience on its Web sites by including, for instance, customer reviews.
“People will always want to have human interaction, but the sheer simplicity and efficiency of the Web is going to become more and more attractive,” he said.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion