By  on June 6, 2008

Private equity firm Istithmar World Capital has acquired a 40 percent stake in Espa International, the U.K.-based global luxury spa company.Espa, which has designed some of the world's most luxurious spas in five-star hotels — its latest is with the Peninsula New York Hotel — also markets a natural product range and runs a spa management division. The company operates 100 spas in 45 countries around the world, with offices in the U.K., U.S. and Hong Kong. A Dubai office, where IWC is based, is due to open later this year.Susan Harmsworth, who serves as chief executive officer and founder of Espa International, originated the company in 1993. Her son, Charles, who serves as brand director, said the deal allows the company to grow at a much faster pace, and "to expect great things from Espa" in the future."We brought the brand to a certain point and a minority investment allows us to build a bigger [manufacturing] facility and bring more people into the U.K.," said Charles Harmsworth.IWC's portfolio includes Barneys New York, which it purchased from Jones Apparel Group for $942.3 million in August.Espa is launching a new skin care range, Super Active, which will be carried on Espa's Web site in August and will be available in spas in October. Super Active is Espa's biggest product launch in several years and targets different skin conditions and types.There are four different ranges: Tone & Firm, Calm & Soothe, Repair & Restore and Cellular Hydration. A new Eye Firming product also has been designed. Facials will be offered in Espa's spas around the world reflecting the new Super Active ranges.

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