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Beauty Beat: Davines Seeks ‘Comfort Zone’

PARMA, Italy — A decade ago, Davines was just another small Italian beauty company, one that made a small profit on the professional hair circuit with its hair dyes.

But a diversification into skin care eight years ago caused what...

PARMA, Italy — A decade ago, Davines was just another small Italian beauty company, one that made a small profit on the professional hair circuit with its hair dyes.

But a diversification into skin care eight years ago caused what amounted to 1 million euros in revenues in 1992 to spiral up to 25 million euros, or $28.3 million, at average exchange rates, last year. Though its hair care business today makes up the majority of Davines’ turnover, at 70 percent, the 22-year-old company plans to develop skin care — a product line that’s marketed under the moniker Comfort Zone — into 40 percent of the business by 2009.

Davide Bollati, president of the Davines Group, began working in the family-owned company in 1992. He said Davines is poised to achieve steady growth through line extensions and additions in both its skin care and hair care divisions.

“The hair and skin care divisions right now are growing at the same rate,” Bollati said during a recent interview at the company’s newly designed offices in Parma’s industrial zone, “but we want the skin care line to be just as important in sales.”

To execute the plan, the company has recently appointed a new chief executive officer, Paolo Braguzzi. An executive at Wella for the past 15 years, Braguzzi said it was exciting to be in an environment where growth was easily achievable.

“The things we do are very appealing,” said Braguzzi. “We need to exploit what we have in our hands.”

With new company direction and new product launches — including a new hair care line, a sensitive skin care line and a leg care line in late summer worldwide — planned for this year, Davines hopes to pull in a turnover of 30 million euros, or $36.59 million at current exchange rates, by yearend.

The firm will widen its hair care division’s professional offering with its Davines Essential Haircare line, which is set to launch in 53 countries with a rollout planned through the end of the year. The 22-stockkeeping-unit line is based on ancient recipes from the Renaissance and is formulated with organic Mediterranean ingredients.

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Bollati said the Renaissance formulas were also a nod to the Italian tradition of creating natural beauty remedies in the kitchen. The line has been given nicknames to differentiate between product groups: Momo signifies the moisturizing line, Dede the delicate line and Nounou the nourishing line.

The line was created with recyclable packaging components. Products were given a tactile touch, and they will be sold with illustrated suggestions on how to reuse the empty bottles. “It’s like when you buy chocolate spread in a glass, and then after you are finished with the product, you can use the glass for other things,” Bollati noted.

The Davines Essential Haircare line will be launched in 2,500 doors in Italy, and subsequently rolled out to 500 doors in the U.S. in September. The products will also be distributed in France, the U.K., Spain, Australia and Germany. Davines is confident the product assortment, ranging in price from $14 to $16, can generate turnover of 4 million euros, or $4.88 million, worldwide in its first year.

Meanwhile, the firm is also developing its eight-year-old skin care line, Comfort Zone. Marina Daccó, marketing and brand development manager for Comfort Zone, said the brand is trying to enlarge its distribution on two levels: in spas and through selective retail distribution. The brand’s 150 items include 76 products intended for retail and 74 products designed for professional use in salons and spas, plus 20 products customized for the Japanese market.

In addition to its flagship spa in Monticelli, Parma, the company recently opened a spa in Borgo La Bagnaia, a hotel in Siena, Tuscany. The Buddha SPA Comfort Zone, an 11,836-square-foot spa, is a collaboration between Comfort Zone and property owner Contessa Marisa Monti Riffeser. It features two pools; offers body, feet, hand and face treatments for men and women using Comfort Zone’s professional line, and is situated on 1,100 hectares (about 2,700 acres) of estate land. Comfort Zone also distributes its professional line to several hotel spas in the U.S., including the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, the Park Hyatt in Los Angeles and the Peninsula Hotel in New York.

Comfort Zone is available in 150 doors in the U.S., and the company is hoping to expand distribution to 300 doors by 2006.

This spring, the company launched a 12-item sun care line containing active ingredients from Brazil that it hopes will strengthen its presence in resort spas. In fall, Comfort Zone will launch a six-item, yet unnamed, sensitive skin care line and a two-item leg line called Vital Leg — including an in-flight spray. The launches are expected to drive Comfort Zone turnover to $10 million by the end of 2004. Bollati predicts the skin care line’s 2006 turnover will hit $13 million.