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Cosnova Tackles Future Growth

The German firm has been showing at Cosmoprof for a decade.

BOLOGNA, Italy — Cosnova’s growth spurt continues. The 14-year-old German company, parent to the trendy but affordable Essence and Catrice brands, has been showing at Cosmoprof for about a decade, and in that time, it has shot up the charts and landed among the world’s best-selling cosmetics firms. In 2014, Cosnova recorded a 13 percent increase in turnover over the previous year, with net sales of 279.3 million euros, or about $371 million at average exchange.

Javier González, general manager and co-owner of Cosnova with Christina Oster-Daum, said this year the company expects to again see double-digit growth.

“Our largest market is Germany, our home market,” with close to 50 percent of sales, González said, adding: “There is a lot of momentum in our biggest market, but obviously we have many projects in many places.”

To wit: Essence, which accounts for the lion’s share of Cosnova’s sales, is now available in more than 80 countries.

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González said that to successfully meet future goals, Cosnova has just added two senior figures to its roster: Hilko Prahl, who had been at the company for seven years, was promoted to chief sales officer, while Jeffrey Wagstaff has joined the firm as general manager of Cosnova Inc., the company’s New York-based North American subsidiary.

Prahl, who works at the Sulzbach headquarters, noted that even geographically smaller countries such as the Netherlands and Switzerland are important sales regions for Cosnova. Last year, the company beefed up its presence in France and the U.K. with distribution deals at Auchan and Wilko, respectively.

Noting he has “ambitions” for the U.S. and Canada, González said: “We are doing fine [there], but not at the level of success we have had in Europe, and we decided it’s time to push the accelerator in North America.”

In Canada, Essence is available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart, while in the U.S., “our number-one partner is Ulta,” Wagstaff said. He added that this fall, Ulta would be test-driving Catrice — the more fashion-forward of the brands — too. On the West Coast, Cosnova is working with Fred Meyer, and “in discussions” with other retailers, according to the executive.

“One of the most interesting projects that we’ve undertaken over the last year, is really looking at the brand Essence and how it resonates with North American women versus how it connects with women in Western Europe and Germany,” Wagstaff said.

To better plug into the North American market, Cosnova has tapped 20 women it calls “Essence stylists,” who will receive sneak previews of new products and share them with their followers on social media.

“These are women with a bit of a following, and what we’re starting to do now is grow our community organically,” Wagstaff said.