FOR THE THIBIANTS, SKIN CARE REMAINS THE TIE THAT BINDS

Byline: PETE BORN

NEW YORK--The Thibiants are a personal care conglomerate.
The family, led by Aida Thibiant, has built a business that has sprawled beyond its 7,000-square-foot Beverly Hills skin care salon into the realm of infomercials, distribution of the Guinot treatment line in the U.S., private label manufacturing and marketing its own assortments of both consumer and professional products.
Aida runs the salon as president of Aida Thibiant. Her 40-year-old son, Patrick, is president of Francosmetics International--the distributor of Guinot--and Thibiant International. Her husband, Michel, is in charge of research and development and runs the family's 120,000-square-foot factory and office complex in nearby Chatsworth, Calif.
The family, which emigrated to Southern California from France nearly 25 years ago, seems to double as a walking definition of entrepreneurial diversity.
The family has been running salons in Beverly Hills for 23 years, with the current unit at 499 North Canon Drive in operation for the last 18 years. The salon has been undergoing $500,000 in reconstruction for the last six months, and it will reopen as Aida Thibiant European Day Spa next week.
As a skin care salon, the facility brought in $3 million in revenue last year, divided between services and sales of Thibiant's signature range of treatment products. According to sources, the family is hoping for an increase as high as 40 percent.
"We redesigned the salon to accommodate body services," said Patrick Thibiant, pointing out that full-service face and body spas have become an industry staple. The Thibiants have put in wet rooms and showers and overhauled the layout so that wet and dry services can be commingled. The facility will include 10 facial rooms, seven massage rooms, a panthermal bath, a hydrotherapy tub, two steam rooms for men and women, two waxing stations, five manicure stations and a hair treatment station.
Beyond the basic services are a menu of treatments, such as a body envelopment.
"This is to revitalize a client in a day or an afternoon," Thibiant said. "You don't have to go anywhere."
In a collaboration with Victoria Principal, the Thibiants produced one of TV's most successful infomercials and mass market skin care lines with Principal Secret. In 1992, the year of its debut, it generated $18 million in sales, he noted. Last year, the figure was $41 million.
The Thibiants also continue to nurture their Guinot manufacturing and U.S. distribution business to 1,100 salons. This year, four new products were launched, two for the face and two for the body. There also is an aromatic treatment line, featuring 18 plant extracts and five oils. The Guinot business in the U.S. has grown to $12 million, up from $10.5 million.
In addition, the family also does another $8 million annually in private label manufacturing of skin care and fragrances.
The family also is launching two more ventures. Beverly Hills Beauty will be Aida Thibiant's first consumer-oriented treatment line.
Thibiant said it will be launched by an infomercial, with intentions of eventually going retail in the American mass market. He added that there also were possibilities of exporting the line to South America and Asia, and it will be shown in Europe.
Thibiant said some of inspiration for a value-oriented consumer line came from his experience in the private label business.
"All our lives, we have been in the prestige business," he observed, "and we get tired of manufacturing millions of units for others."
At the other end of the spectrum, the Thibiants plan to launch next month a professional face and body care line, based on marine and plant extracts. The new line, which also includes aromatherapy, will be unusual, Thibiant said, because most companies find it too unprofitable to market a line that is purely for professional use.
But Thibiant sees more at stake than profitability. He noted, "We want to focus our image on being precision formulators."

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