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Natura Bisse on Track for Solid Growth

When Veronica Fisas moved from Barcelona to Dallas the first week of September 2001, her mission was singlefold.

NEW YORK — When Veronica Fisas moved from Barcelona to Dallas the first week of September 2001, her mission was singlefold: to expand her family’s Natura Bissé skin care brand to high-end department and independent stores across the country. Natura Bissé, after all, was beginning to make a splash in Neiman Marcus, its key retail partner, and setting up a home base near its headquarters made sense.

The following week, however, Fisas’ agenda changed.

In addition to struggling to learn the English language, settling into a new home and adapting to the challenges of the U.S. retail world, Fisas was faced with building a luxury beauty brand in a post-9/11 world.

But the 26-year-old company, which was founded by her science-minded father, Ricardo Fisas, would persevere. With him as a role model and mentor, Fisas, chief executive officer of Natura Bissé USA, over the next four years would take the privately owned company, which is still operated from its headquarters in Barcelona, to the next level.

With about 92 high-performance, results-oriented, luxuriously packaged items from 12 lines, Fisas expects Natura Bissé USA to end 2005 with $8.5 million in wholesale sales, a 27 percent jump over last year, she said. Gains are attributed to the firm’s star product, Inhibit Dermafill, which launched a year ago and claims Botox-esque results. Originally called Fotox, it soon faced a lawsuit from the makers of Botox and the controversy drew curiosity. With the attention garnered from the lawsuit, Dermafill became a must-try, and last September the product was responsible for the biggest launch Neiman Marcus had ever hosted, Fisas said. In its first month, Fisas recalled, Dermafill sold more than 7,000 pieces, or close to $2 million at retail. Dermafill costs $385 for 1 oz. and lasts about eight weeks.

Bergdorf Goodman’s Pat Saxby said she started developing a cult-like Natura Bissé customer with the brand’s glycolic peels, which contain a strong concentration of glycolic acid. “Business really started to build” in 2000 with the launch of the Diamond collection, she added, one that includes seven items for the face, but what really put business over the top was Inhibit, which is the store’s number-one seller within Natura Bissé. “It is about 30 percent of the business,” Saxby said.

Natura Bissé worldwide looks to end 2005 with approximately $36 million in retail sales. In the U.S., Natura Bissé is sold in 95 stores, including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York. The brand also is sold in Japan and Hong Kong, and will begin selling in Australia in 2006. By 2010, Fisas aims to take Natura Bissé into 300 doors in the U.S. and Mexico, with sales goals of $20 million in wholesale sales.

For 2006, Fisas expects U.S. sales to rise again, to $10.5 million wholesale, due in part to its newest products, as well as from entering new spas and independent retailers. The newest Natura Bissé items are Diamond Ice Lift, a peel-off gel mask that aims to serve as a face lift, and Diamond Extreme, an antiage, ultrarich cream that’s enriched with neuropeptides and lipid supplements. The mask retails for $140; the cream, for $300.

Fisas said items from the brand’s Diamond line account for 25 percent of overall sales. “It is the most successful because of the quality,” she said.