NEW YORK — Bath & Body Works is exploring the simple life.

Ten years after the retail chain reinvented fragrant body care, B&BW is now looking to revolutionize the natural skin care arena with Pure Simplicity, a 30-item face, body and treatment line, that offers consumers an easy-to-understand regimen with formulas packed with extracts, herbs and at times, whole fruits.

Pure Simplicity will replace bio, a skin care line the company introduced three years ago. Bio’s hair care line will remain. Pure Simplicity is expected to generate approximately $150 million its first year on shelves. In four years, store executives estimate Pure Simplicity could reap more than $400 million in sales, nearly 8 percent of the chain’s overall top line. The collection will bow in September.

The idea for the line called for some fresh B&BW blood. Enter Sandy Cataldo, a beauty industry veteran and former Estée Lauder executive, who most recently headed up the Jane Cosmetics teen beauty brand. Cataldo joined B&BW eight months ago to take on Pure Simplicity, a concept she invented by looking deep within herself and her own needs, as well as the needs of many American women.

Fresh on the heels of repainting every room in her house white “to unclutter her own life,” Cataldo set off on a mission to create a complete, yet easy-to-understand skin care line for women interested in well being. She factored in several research revelations, such as that Americans spend an enormous amount of money on nutrition and health products, nearly $40 billion each year, which includes sales of foods and supplements. The natural personal care segment of that business is approximately $3.8 billion and is growing faster than any other part of the industry, Cataldo said. Spas, she added, are a $10 billion business.

But women are picky. They want their well-being information and products from very credible sources. They also want the products they buy to be proven effective. But most of all, Cataldo discovered, women practice well being to enhance both inner and outer beauty.

It was the combination of these factors that yielded Pure Simplicity.

“We are offering a holistic approach to beauty. A beautiful line, total skin care from head to toe, with the best ingredients and technology,” claims Cataldo. “At the end of the day the consumer is going to say she has beautiful skin but more importantly she will feel beautiful internally and externally. That was really the vision behind Pure Simplicity.”A licensing deal with an undisclosed U.S.-based laboratory gave B&BW access to a new patented technology, called Unitanicals, a process that penetrates a plant’s wooden cellular wall to extract the plant’s essence at its core. The process allows this essence to be used in its purest forms without the need to blend it with heavy waxes to deliver it.

According to Dr. Konstantinos Lahanas, director of research for B&BW, a scientist who worked on the making of Pure Simplicity, traditional creams ultimately require 3 to 5 percent of their total makeup to be comprised of emulsifiers to bring together oil and water in the making of lotion or cream, plus another 3 to 5 percent of wax to “body up” the formula for a thick consistency. The Unitanicals technology, Lahanas, said, requires between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of emulsifiers to keep oil and water together, without heavy waxes.

Betsey Schmalz, executive vice president of product innovation for B&BW, believes the Unitanicals technology allows Pure Simplicity to meet the challenges that the marketplace presents for companies in the natural product arena. She contends the Unitanicals technology guarantees an “excellent product,” despite fluctuating crop results.

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an expert in alternative medicine, was brought in to supervise and direct the use of certain plant ingredients in Pure Simplicity products.

“We wanted to make sure we could give full power of the plant to the consumer. With this technology not only are you getting more of the plant but you are getting the oil and water soluble parts of the plant, the powerhouses of most plants, together in a radically different way. You are getting a more pristine extract.”

Prices for the 30-item collection range from $6 to $45, with the core between $15 to $22.

Face products are formulated for oily, normal and dry skin types in mind. The face regimen recommends consumers select an item from three product categories, a cleanser, a moisturizer and either an age prevention or treatment product.

The face wash and lotion for normal-combination skin uses rice, which contains antioxidants and natural moisturizers. For dry skin, a face wash and lotion have been formulated with milk thistle, known for its essential fatty oxidants. Oily skin gets its own cleanser and moisturizer, too, this one with oil-absorbing oatmeal.Anti-aging products include Everlasting Flower, which is comprised mainly of helichrysum flowers, known for their antioxidant and antiseptic qualities. There’s an Everlasting Flower Line Reducing Concentrate, as well as a serum, both of which the B&BW executive team believes are among Pure Simplicity’s hero items. The nonirritating, dermatologist tested concentrate is designed to help restore fine lines and stimulate cell renewal. The serum looks to improve skin’s texture and clarity.

Age prevention is also important to the line, such as a White Tea concentrate and serum.

Body products address hydrating, toning and rejuvenating issues, such as the Fig Hydrating Shower Cream, Body Cream and Body Scrub.

There’s also a Tomato Revitalizing Face Scrub, a product Dr. Low Dog is particularly excited about. The scrub, she said, contains one whole tomato, as well as its UVB, toning and smoothing benefits. “You will hear an awful lot about tomatoes’ healing properties in the next five years,” Low Dog said, who chairs the United States Pharmacopoeia Dietary Supplements and Botanicals Expert Committee.

Packaging for Pure Simplicity reinforces the brand’s simple approach, with minimalist, no frills containers. Products will be presented in displays that feature lifestyle products, too, such as face cloths, candle holders and pillows. “They’re not props,” Cataldo said, “they are part of the line.” For the launch, Pure Simplicity is being tied to yoga, which, as a part of its philosophy, asks for practitioners to live life simply. Next year the lineup will be linked with another lifestyle activity to keep the concept fresh.

In terms of merchandising, Pure Simplicity will get the red-carpet treatment.

Since B&BW uses its stores as advertising vehicles, each store in the chain will be remerchandised to make a Pure Simplicity statement. “A launch for us means four weeks in the windows. Compare that to department stores,” which usually offer one week of window displays, Cataldo said. “We are redoing what the store looks like to set the tone and the mood for Pure Simplicity,” Cataldo said. Educational props and take-home booklets explaining each item in the line will be available, too.B&BW will also spend $6 million in promotions, which will mostly include sampling. The timing of the launch comes at B&BW’s busiest time.

“During the fall season we will easily reach 3 million to 4 million consumers. During the holiday time, we will have the opportunity to reach 14.5 million consumers. These are people who make purchases in our stores,” not just browsers, Cataldo said.

Cataldo is confident the line will succeed. She cites the retailers’ two most recent launches, one called Aromatherapy, which will yield more than $200 million this year, and True Blue Spa, which will generate more than $100 million in 2003.

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