By  on September 30, 2005

NEW YORK — Cellcosmet, a skin care line that one noted retailer called "the world's best-kept secret," has opened at Holt Renfrew, billed as its specialty store debut.

Shelley Rozenwald, senior vice president of cosmetics, skin care, fragrance and beauty services for Canada's Holt Renfrew, discovered the 18-year-old dermatologically based line and headed to Lausanne, Switzerland, to meet with Roland Pfister, president and founder of parent company Cellap Laboratoire. There was just one tiny complication: Pfister didn't want to sell the line to Rozenwald.

"He was adamant because he said he didn't sell to department and specialty stores — only to spas and pharmacies," Rozenwald said with a laugh. "He's very passionate about the training of the aestheticians and salespeople. Once I explained to him how we could make that aspect work, we were in business."

In fact, Rozenwald said, so passionate is Pfister about training that he invited all of Holt Renfrew's counter managers to Lausanne to be trained, with the understanding that they also would train the sales associates who would be selling the line. "The training is so important to the brand's philosophy," she said. "This is not the kind of product you'll find in a self-serve atmosphere." Pfister also works with Alain Denoly, a former YSL Beauté executive, who now is a Cellcosmet consultant.

Pfister, who founded Cellap Laboratoire in 1982, had previously served as the chief executive officer of a Swiss "revitalization center," dedicated to finding and implementing advanced antiaging products.

Cellcosmet's key technology is a cocktail of concentrated cellular technology, said to use components of young cells to energize old cells. While cell-therapy regimens are produced by several companies, Pfister noted that Cellcosmet's point of difference comes from the type and concentration of cells — the cells are active stabilized bio-integral cells rather than the more common freeze-dried cells, and offer a concentration of up to 30 percent in some products.

The Cellcosmet line, marketed to women, is broken down into five ranges: Juvenil, for those up to 25 years of age with normal skin; Preventive, geared to 25- to 35-year-olds; Concentrated, for those 35 and up; Sensitive, for those 25 and older with sensitive skin, and Ultra Vital, for those 30 and older with dry skin. The products also fall into several categories as far as ingredients go: Cyto-Cosmeceutical, consisting of products with cellular-cyto complexes intended to revitalize and rebalance skin; Phyto-Cosmeceutical, comprising phyto-marine and aromatic complexes said to have wellness benefits, and Cyto + Phyto-Cosmeceutical, intended to provide revitalization and wellness benefits. Products are available for the face, eyes, body, bust, feet and legs, among other categories. Day creams and night creams range from 135 Canadian dollars, or $115 at current exchange, to 275 Canadian dollars, or $235. In total, there are more than three dozen products on offer ranging in price from 75 Canadian dollars, or $64, to 568 Canadian dollars, or $485.Cellap also produces a men's line, called Cellmen. These products are broken down into the same families that comprise the women's line, although there are far fewer items: nine products for the face, body, eyes, feet and legs.

For now, the lineup has been launched in three Holt Renfrew doors: the retailer's Bloor Street store in Toronto and one door apiece in Montreal and Vancouver. "We're also planning to roll the line out to additional doors in 2006," she said.

Rozenwald would not comment on sales projections, but sources said when the line is in its full specialty store distribution, it could do about $1 million or more at retail yearly.

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