By  on July 11, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Jafra Cosmetics International has stayed within the direct-selling fold with the selection of its new chief executive officer.

Frank Mineo, who was most recently president worldwide of Blyth-owned, direct-sales candles and accessories company PartyLite, has assumed the Jafra ceo post following the retirement of Eugenio Lopez-Barrios. Before his 13-year run at PartyLite, Mineo worked for seven years at Jafra, where he had been controller for the U.S. and, separately, for Europe.

"It was just one of those things that really excited me from the moment I heard about the opportunity. It is kind of like going back to the high school that you graduated from as a principal," said Mineo. "It was about giving back to the company that taught me direct sales, bringing so much more to them with much more experience."

The Jafra that Mineo returns to is, in some respects, a different place than the one he entered 20 years ago. German direct-selling vacuum and kitchen company Vorwerk & Co. KG bought Jafra in 2004 for an undisclosed amount from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc., a New York private equity firm that had acquired Jafra from The Gillette Co. in 1998.

"Gillette not being a direct-selling company, they really never entirely understood the division called Jafra," said Mineo, who reports to Markus von Blomberg, a managing partner at family-owned Vorwerk. "The Vorwerk companies are direct-selling companies for the most part. The leadership of Vorwerk gets direct selling. It makes it much more favorable to be the ceo."

Throughout the ownership changes, the story of company's 1956 founding by Jan and Frank Day — the married couple that combined their names to spell Jafra — with the product Royal Jelly Milk Balm Moisture Lotion has remained central to Jafra's message. Pictures of the Days line the walls of Jafra's Westlake Village, Calif., headquarters and a bottle of the first lotion sits in a case right outside Mineo's office.

Although still important to some loyal customers, Mineo indicated that the story of the company's founding might not resonate with younger consumers. He said his challenge is to make Jafra relevant to that younger group that's not as aware of the brand's history."When I told some young people about my new job, they said, 'I remember [Jafra] because my mother used your product.' I would like them to say, 'I am using your product,'" he said. "Clearly, we need to keep engaging all kinds of people, all different ages, all different ethnic backgrounds, all different economic backgrounds."

Mineo emphasized that another of his key goals is to deepen Jafra's penetration in the U.S., where it sells in only nine states and has a robust customer base in cities with sizable Hispanic populations. Jafra's largest market is Mexico, followed by the U.S. and Europe.

"The U.S. hasn't moved much in the last 20 years. It was successful 20 years ago, [then] Mexico definitely outpaced it," said Mineo. "We are not as strong as we would like to be in certain pockets of this country."

In fiscal year 2006, Jafra generated $493 million in net sales, up 13 percent from $436 million in the prior year. That increase is consistent with the high single-digit to low double-digit growth rate the company has experienced for the last several years.

To foster future expansion, the company recently entered Russia and will soon enter Indonesia to kick off its push into Asia. The company already enlists 500,000 consultants to sell its products and tries to identify emerging countries such as Indonesia where women are hungry for jobs.

"We offer them opportunities to explode out of the gate with great success," said Mineo, who will undoubtedly learn if the same goes for ceo's.

Menscience Takes On Acne

NEW YORK — Men's skin, body and hair care brand Menscience Androceuticals has entered the anti-acne business.

The three-year-old brand introduced in late June Acne Spot Repair, a 0.75-oz., 10 percent benzoyl peroxide cream for $21, along with Acne Therapy Lotion, a 1.55-oz. formula for $28.

There are plans for a third anti-acne product in the fall.

Menscience, which also markets a trio of nutritional supplements, is carried in about 200 locations in the U.S., including spas and selected specialty store doors like Barneys New York and Nordstrom.Internationally, the brand is looking to expand on its base of about 20 doors abroad.

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