BERLIN — The Beiersdorf Group celebrated its 125th anniversary last week and reported more detailed news of another record-breaking year at its annual consumer brands press conference here.

The Hamburg-based company was founded on March 28, 1882, the date of pharmacist Paul C. Beiersdorf's patent for the manufacturer of medical plasters. Since then, the company has grown into a worldwide giant now focusing on skin and beauty care, remarked Peter Nota, the Beiersdorf board member in charge of the consumer division.

In 2006, Beiersdorf's Group sales broke the 5 billion euro barrier, rising 7.2 percent to reach 5.12 billion euros, or $6.43 billion at average exchange. Sales of its leading Nivea brand exceeded 3 billion euros for the first time, hitting 3.1 billion, or $3.89 billion, a nominal gain of 8.6 percent.

Sales of the consumer division, which includes body and facial care under the Nivea, Labello, Florena, Juvena, La Prairie, Eucerin and other brands, as well as Curad and Curitas plasters, rose 7.2 percent on a currency-adjusted basis to 4.33 billion euros, or $5.44 billion. The division's earnings before interest and taxes rose 11.5 percent to 524 million euros, or $658.3 million.

Beiersdorf's other "brand champions" — Eucerin and La Prairie — achieved the strongest growth in 2006. Eucerin, which outside the U.S. is primarily distributed in apothecaries, saw currency-adjusted sales increase by more than 10 percent, and La Prairie more than 15 percent.

Nota said three key launches last year — Nivea Visage DNAge, Eucerin Hyaluron Filler and Nivea Hair's Brilliant Blonde — illustrated the company's new strategy of being "more focused, bigger, better and faster," and helped power stronger sales and earnings. The antiaging line DNAge, which was launched last September, quickly reached the number-one skin care slot in Germany with its day cream. In fact, all three products in the range placed in the top 10 skin care slots.

Similarly, Eucerin Hyaluron Filler "won us points in market share," Nota said, as did the Nivea hair care innovations. This year will see the further expansion of Nivea DNAge with Zone Action targeting wrinkles around the nose and eyes, he said. Other important introductions in 2007 will include the global rollout of La Prairie's Pure Gold serum and Nivea Hair Brilliant Brown shampoo.

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