Byline: James Fallon

LONDON-- The Boots Co. PLC, the U.K.'s largest beauty retailer, has further expanded its skin care operations with the $179.4 million (115 million pound) acquisition of the French company Laboratoires Lutsia.
Boots portrayed the deal as the latest step in turning its Boots Healthcare International operation into "a leader in the development, manufacture and marketing of over-the-counter skin medication."
The Paris-based Laboratoires Lutsia previously was owned by Roussel Uclaf and is the market leader in France in anti-acne and anti-aging products.
It employs more than 200 people, including 70 at a factory in Chace, France, and had sales of $61.5 million (39.4 million pounds) in 1995.
It has about a 7 percent market share of French skin care products sold only through drugstores.
Laboratoires Lutsia will boost BHI's sales in France to $89.7 million (57.5 million pounds) a year, which is close to those of its U.K. subsidiary, Crookes Healthcare. It also sharpens BHI's focus, Boots said, with 60 percent of its sales now in skin care, analgesics and cough and throat medicines.
BHI's total skin care sales this year are expected to be about $117 million (75 million pounds). BHI plans to expand Laboratoires Lutsia's sales outside France.
To date it has only a small amount of export sales, mainly to Spain. BHI plans to expand this to Italy, the U.K. and countries in central and eastern Europe."
"Lutsia has already shown that it can create a new product sector by the identification and exploitation of consumer demand for medically effective skin care products recommended by dermatologists," said Barry Clare, managing director of BHI. "That expertise can be applied to other major markets in Europe."

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