LONDON -- Prestige skin care sales are climbing by 10 to 20 percent at department stores here, although a maturing market means growth is slowing. "Skin care is now the main part of our business, and we need it to grow," said Hilary Dart, perfumery buyer at Selfridges. "Women are increasingly aware of skin and body care, and once they start using the products, they don't stop." While the strong growth isn't being seen nationwide, skin and body care are gaining increasing attention among both women and men. Mass market retailers, including supermarkets, are introducing more women's branded and private label lines, while such magazines as the British version of Men's Health devote a large amount of space to skin and body care. Overall, the UK skin care market grew by 6.9 percent in 1994 (the most recent data available) to $1.13 billion (741.1 million pounds) and was projected to increase by 3.8 percent in 1995 to about $1.18 billion (769 million pounds), according to British consultants Datamonitor. The company forecasts similar increases over the next several years, indicating the overall UK market will slow down from its boom period in the late Eighties, when sales were increasing by 15 to 20 percent a year. Within the overall growth, there will be bright spots, Datamonitor believes. Sales of medicated skin care products are expected to increase by an annual average of 5.4 percent between 1994 and the year 2000 to about $195.84 million (128 million pounds); sun care sales will rise by a yearly average of 4.7 percent in that period to $247.86 million (162 million pounds), and depilatory sales will increase by an annual average of 4.5 percent to $42.84 million (28 million pounds). Facial care volume, however, is forecast to rise by only 2.8 percent a year in that time to $667.08 million (436 million pounds), while sales of hand and body products also will slow to an average of 3.5 percent annual growth. The hand and body product market is expected to be worth $234.09 million (153 million pounds) by the year 2000, Datamonitor said. The slowdown in facial skin care is because this is already a relatively mature market in the UK, retailers said. But some of the slowdown in facial skin care is being offset by a boom in body care, fueled by the success of anti-cellulite creams. Buyers said Svelte from Christian Dior continues to lead the market, but such products as Body Lift from Clarins and ThighZone from EstÄe Lauder also are selling well. "UK consumers are becoming more and more aware of body treatment, and the entire category is growing," said Frederique Lucas, assistant perfumery buyer at Harvey Nichols. One problem stores are encountering is that there are few major launches this year to fuel the category. While some buyers said this is a sign the existing technologies are working, others said it means companies will have to work harder to maintain their sales growth. In-store promotions, especially service-oriented events, are becoming more important as a result, buyers said. Stores also are having to find unique and lesser-known products to attract the interest of knowledgeable customers. "Consumers are constantly demanding the new," said Angela Creasy, perfumery buyer at Harrods. "Their sophistication is evident because the way of selling now has changed. The consumer is more interested in the technology behind the products as well as the benefits they will get from them." For example, consumers now are fully aware of alpha-hydroxy acids and their benefits and expect them to be in almost all products, buyers said. "AHA's have become part-and-parcel of a woman's skin care wardrobe," Dart of Selfridges said. "They are no longer a new and talked-about thing." Instead, the focus has shifted to vitamin-enriched products and antipollutants. DayWear from Lauder has performed strongly at retail in the UK, as has Primordiale from Lancome. House of Fraser, looking to capitalize on the greater emphasis on vitamins, will launch the Osmotics line from Denver, Colo., in its Dickins & Jones store in late April, said Janet Saunders, associate director of perfumery and cosmetics at House of Fraser. The line, which has been exclusive to Saks Fifth Avenue since its launch in fall 1993, is built around its Antioxidant Skincare Derm, which delivers vitamin C to wrinkled areas of the face via a patch placed on the skin. Dickins & Jones will have a one-year exclusive on Osmotics, which also hopes to launch in France later this year, said Steven Porter, the company's president. Harrods is also having success with some of its smaller lines, including Kiehl's, Bobbie Brown, Syence, Decleor, Sisley and Origins, Creasy said. The store is also the only one in the UK to carry Origins, having opened a 400-square-foot shop last October with a one-year exclusive. Creasy said sales so far are on plan--meaning the brand could reach a volume of over $1.5 million in its first year. "Origins is a lifestyle brand and it's the only line of its type," she said. "Kiehl's is similar, but is very trendy." Overall, Harrods' best-selling skin care lines include Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Clinique, Clarins, La Prairie, Lancome, Sisley, Christian Dior, Kanebo, Shiseido and Helena Rubinstein, Creasy said. At Harvey Nichols, the best-selling lines last year were Clarins, Clinique, La Prairie, Lauder, Shiseido, Lancome, Kanebo, Sisley and Borghese, Lucas said. Clarins and Clinique are by far the leaders in skin care, which represents about 35 percent of beauty business, Lucas said. Harvey Nichols will expand its perfumery department this spring by turning a former men's accessories area nearby into a skin care one, with such lines as Molton Brown, Lab Series for Men from Aramis and Aveda. Each of these will have its own beauty room. In addition, such lines as Espa, Lazartigue, Janet Sartin, Kanebo and La Prairie will be relocated to the new area, Lucas said. The space being devoted to Lab Series indicates the growth stores are seeing in men's skin care and the potential in that market. Buyers said men's treatment sales are growing by up to 30 percent a year, with the foremost lines being Lab Series and Clinique's men's range. "Men's is still a huge potential market, but companies aren't flooding into it for some reason," Creasy said. "The women's lines being bought by men are those that are more clinical, with less of a feminine feeling. Kiehl's also does very well with its men's products. Men care less about the technology; they just want to know what it does."
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"