LONDON — As the German beauty wave gains momentum, with scientist or doctor-led brands such as Augustinus Bader, Barbara Sturm and Royal Fern touting results on aging or problem skin, QMS Medicosmetics is speaking up — after 30 years in business.
QMS, founded in the Eighties by Dr. Erich Schulte, a German traumatologist and cosmetic surgeon, has never been a household name, nor does it have aspirations to be one.
A treatment-led brand that does the bulk of its business through luxury spas, hotels and high-end clinics, QMS has built a quiet, cultish following, especially in Germany, its largest market.
Customers quickly get hooked on the collagen and hyaluronic acid-rich formulas that are used in the treatments. According to the brand, 80 to 90 percent of women walk out the door with products after having a QMS facial. Treatments run from 50 to 90 minutes, with names including Pure Oxygen, Urban Repair, Collagen Rejuvenating or Skin Cell Renewal.
QMS’s new owner Bluegem Capital Partners discovered the brand on the shop floor at Liberty, the only department store that stocks the products in the U.K. In late 2017, Bluegem, which owns Liberty, purchased QMS from Dr. Schulte as part of a plan to build a beauty portfolio.
Both QMS and Iconic are run by Selma Terzic, an industry veteran who has worked at The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., St. Tropez, PZ Cussons Beauty and Pat McGrath Cosmetics.
As chief executive officer of QMS, Terzic has been working on polishing the brand’s profile, and moving into new markets, such as the U.S., with her sights set on retailers such as Sephora and hotels and resorts including the Ritz-Carlton and Canyon Ranch.
She also wants to grow established markets, such as Germany, which continues to post 20 percent growth year-on-year. The brand has recently expanded into Russia and Poland, and plans to grow its business in Switzerland, the Middle East and the U.K.
The aim in the medium-term is to achieve revenues of around 20 million pounds, with the business split between retail and spa treatments.
“We’re a sleeping beauty. People don’t necessarily know us, but we are the original German doctor brand and we want to remain treatment-led,” Terzic said during an interview at the QMS offices in London’s Covent Garden.
As part of the refresh, Terzic and her London-based team have put a sleeker spin on the packaging, turning the signature light blue into a dark turquoise. They’ve also ditched the exclamation point in front of the QMS and color-coded the products in blue, white and gray, depending on the type of treatment and ingredients.
Terzic and her team have reduced the secondary packaging by about 50 percent and made it recyclable, using FSC cartons. They’ve also removed body products from the line, preferring to focus on the face and treatments by the brand’s specialist therapists.
The ceo is quick to point out that while the packaging has been refreshed, the brand wasn’t crying out for a relaunch or a slew of new product add-ons. Dr. Schulte’s formulations haven’t changed since the Eighties, she said, and the brand still offers about 35 sku’s after 30 years.
Products continue to focus on skin regeneration and enhancing elasticity, and are meant to complement cosmetic and surgical treatments.
The 600 locations that work with QMS include the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok; Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah, Dubai; Atlantis by Giardino, in Zurich, and Ellerman House, Cape Town, South Africa.
QMS won Best Spa Brand at the World Spa Awards from 2015-17, and was a nominee for the prize in 2018.
The collection includes cleansers, toners, exfoliators, collagens and masks, special treatments and moisturizers, all of which are produced in Germany.
Prices range from 73 pounds for the Day and Night Collagen Serums — which are among the hero products — to 123 pounds for the Antioxidant Cream, to 219 pounds for the Advanced Pearl Protein firming and moisturizing day and night cream.
Terzic believes the brand’s super power lies in the products’ consistent performance: A recent, independent clinical study tested the products on 31 women over the age of 40. After 12 weeks, they saw wrinkle reduction of 18 percent, a 28 percent increase in skin elasticity and firmness, a 264 percent improvement in hydration and a 42 percent reduction in overall signs of aging.
Terzic attributes those results to QMS’s “German engineering for the skin,” and products that she said can complement — or even help to put off — plastic surgery.