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Nu Visage Rolls Out

NEW YORK — The U.S. treatment landscape has a new face: Nu Visage, a brand that’s putting its own spin on the benefits of grape seeds.<br><br>The brand, which is slated to hit a handful of Nordstrom doors in July, employs as its key...

NEW YORK — The U.S. treatment landscape has a new face: Nu Visage, a brand that’s putting its own spin on the benefits of grape seeds.

This story first appeared in the May 16, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The brand, which is slated to hit a handful of Nordstrom doors in July, employs as its key ingredient a substance dubbed TR-OPC, which comes from the coating found on grape seeds.

“It comes from grape seeds, but it’s not grape seed extract,” Kelly Magrath, the brand’s vice president of marketing, is quick to point out. Grape seed extract, he said, is made of the whole grape, “the fruit, stem, seed — everything.” Magrath added that TR-OPC was developed in 1949 by scientists at PhytoMedica, a French company that owns and operates Nu Visage via a U.S. subsidiary in Fairfield, Conn.

Though Nu Visage has been in development for a year, Magrath said that TR-OPC has been used in supplements in France for far longer — perhaps auspicious, considering that numerous skin care marketers have begun approaching treatment from the inside out in recent years. Magrath added that TR-OPC, which is said to be able to permeate capillary walls, is also given to heart patients in France to help rebuild cardiac muscle and veins.

Nu Visage was spawned when PhytoMedica — traditionally a raw materials supplier for clients such as Bayer and General Nutrition — was developing a TR-OPC-based skin care formula for a client. But the long and expensive production process made it virtually impractical, explained Magrath, who suggested that PhytoMedica executives instead do it themselves. Magrath eventually joined forces with PhytoMedica and its chief executive Richard LeFebvre to launch the brand, leaving his marketing post at Kenneth Cole.

“The business is growing fast now and there is a huge market for skin care in the U.S.,” said Magrath, who has a vested interest in Nu Visage.

Nu Visage’s offerings are designed to rebuild collagen and elastin; address fine lines, wrinkles and dark circles, and moisturize. The 10-stockkeeping-unit assortment ranges in price from $30 for Daily Cleanser to $200 for a three-item antiaging face kit. Industry sources project the line could garner between $1 million and $1.5 million in first-year wholesale sales.

Culling the grape seed coating takes seven days and yields a substance worth $2,800 per kilogram on the open market, according to Magrath, or $11 per clinical dose — about 1.7 percent of the Nu Visage formula. In comparison, he added, a typical clinical skin care dose can go for $1. But Magrath stresses that high raw material costs don’t necessarily translate to consumers through markups. “Being the manufacturer, we can control cost,” he said.