By  on August 25, 2008

LONDON — It’s official — Brits are beauty buffs.

British shoppers spent more per person on health and beauty products than any of their European Union compatriots in 2007, according to a report by Verdict Research.

“The average U.K. consumer spends 375 euros [or $555.42 at current exchange] a year on health and beauty products — far more than most of our European neighbors,” stated Carol Ratcliffe, retail analyst at London-based Verdict, a wholly owned subsidiary of Datamonitor Ltd. “We spend almost 50 percent more each year than the Spanish, for example, and 43 percent more than the average European. The British are certainly happy to splash out on looking good.”

Verdict attributed Britain’s high per capita spend to easy access to products, consumer appetite for innovative and up-market items and a shift to premium products.

Behind the U.K. on the big beauty spenders list for 2007 were France at 327 euros, or $484.32, per person; Italy at 305 euros, or $451.74; Germany at 289 euros, or $428.04; the Netherlands at 280 euros, or $414.71, and Spain at 254 euros, or $376.20.

Spain was the fastest growing of the major EU markets, while Romania, Estonia and Latvia are the fastest growing EU markets overall.

“The 12 new members of the EU are attracting major investment from the likes of Douglas and DM-Drogerie Markt because of their high growth rates and future growth potential,” Verdict stated. “With stiff competition in the mature EU markets and weak consumer confidence likely to limit spending growth in the short term, there is much to be gained from geographical diversification into these smaller markets.”

Hong Kong-based A.S. Watson, which owns Marionnaud, Superdrug, Kruidvat, Ici Paris XL, Savers, Trekpleister, Drogas, The Perfume Shop and Watson’s, as well as a stake in Rossmann, was the leading EU health-and-beauty retailer in 2007 with an estimated 5.3 percent of the market, according to the study.

Alliance Boots ranked second, Schlecker third, DM-Drogerie Markt fourth, Rossmann fifth and Douglas Group sixth.

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