NEW YORK — Health & Beauty America’s annual trade show proved that remaining on the pulse of the marketing, packaging and private label beauty industry is one tall order.

But by kicking off HBA with a speech by Susan Arnold, Procter & Gamble’s president of global beauty care, then honoring one of the world’s most respected dermatologists, Dr. Albert Kligman, and in between presenting a cocktail party hosted by the mayor of Grasse, France, HBA organizers met the task.

More than 550 exhibitors attended this year’s event, up 10 percent compared with last year. That the number of companies exhibiting increased despite consolidation in the industry pleases show director Jack Gonzalez.

“If you look at the size of the show floor there are more exhibitors but there are fewer people here overall. The event has gotten larger but the industry has gotten smaller,” Gonzalez said, explaining that people must be charged with more responsibilities to make up for the decrease in jobs.

Gonzalez attributes HBA’s growth to newcomers, such as the companies from Grasse, which along with the town’s mayor, Jean-Pierre Leleux, attended HBA for the first time.

“I was told that this was a very important show and the biggest exhibition in the United States,” Leleux said of his attendance. He is considering attending next year’s show, too, he said.

In addition to new exhibitors, new products also emerged at HBA, such as Power Paper’s PowerCosmetics line of micropowered skin patches, designed to decrease the appearance of wrinkles; Heinz-Glas glass and titanium pearlized containers; Fiabila’s two-phase nail polishes, which when shaken form one color, and Ever Spring’s four quadrant plastic box. Finally, one of the most popular innovations unveiled at HBA was The Royal Promotion Group’s new open sell wall for M.A.C., which displays an entire “wall of color,” with testers in front of the consumer and stock in individual drawers behind each tester.

According to Bruce Teitelbaum, president of The Royal Promotion Group, the M.A.C. open-sell system features ultra modern, streamlined drawer design innovations, including the capacity to hold approximately 800 testable products and more than 7,500 stockkeeping units of product per wall.“The system is clearly a breakthrough in the way products are sold in the prestige category,” Teitelbaum said.“While open-sell is popular in the mass market, the M.A.C. open-sell system brings a new feature and way of selling products in the prestige category. The strong but simple design takes bold steps to speak to the consumer.”

The wall, which was developed and manufactured by Royal in partnership with the M.A.C. creative team under the direction of James Gager and Craig Bernardi, is currently exclusive to Nordstrom. It has rolled out to six Nordstrom stores to date and is expected to expand to the entire chain throughout 2004.

Gonzalez is still on a quest to beef up HBA’s attendance. He has planned a trip to Brittany, France, to meet with raw material makers of spa and salon products.

And, he has planned something brand new for HBA show attendees next year. Innovations in the salon and spa industries can be seen at the launch of Beauty Fusion, a new trade show planned for fall 2004 that will overlap with next year’s HBA’s dates. Beauty Fusion invites salon and spa distributors and manufacturers to exhibit their hair, skin, spa and wellness wares.

HBA returns to the Javits Center Sept. 26 to 28. Beauty Fusion is planned for Sept. 28 to 30.

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