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L’Occitane Opens First Paris Spa

In an effort to bolster aggressive expansion plans, French beauty company L'Occitane en Provence inaugurated its first spa here on Jan. 13.

PARIS — In an effort to bolster aggressive expansion plans, French beauty company L’Occitane en Provence inaugurated its first spa here on Jan. 13.

Situated opposite the capital’s venerable Le Bon Marché department store, the space is part of L’Occitane’s latest move to boost worldwide visibility.

“The concept is a great marketing opportunity that fits well with our core skin care and well-being business,” said Emmanuel de Courcel, the company’s European general manager.

The 2,500-square-foot Parisian spa is the third of its kind to be wholly owned and managed by L’Occitane. The company opened its first in 2001, in São Paulo, Brazil, followed by a second in Hong Kong in November. De Courcel said similar spas are in the works for the U.S., Asia and Europe in the short- to medium-term.

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In tandem with this strategy, the company is also exploring opening treatment rooms in prestigious chain and independent hotels worldwide, although executives declined to reveal specific locations. L’Occitane already manages cabins in upscale hotels in Brazil, France and Portugal.

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Olivier Baussan, L’Occitane’s founder, designed the latest spa taking inspiration from the brand’s home region of Camargue. Baussan and in-house architects used clay and bamboo from the Provençale region to create a natural, roughly hewn space, which incorporates the earthy colors of the company branding. It is located above a L’Occitane store, which was inaugurated at the same time. Its five cabins, including a double VIP room with a large, rounded enamel bath, are distributed on the second floor and basement.

Baussan incorporated a strong emphasis on environmental awareness, in line with the company’s recent push into organic products, into the space’s design. As well as sourcing building materials from Camargue, he chose Portuguese organic cotton for the spa’s robes, towels and sheets. The space is lit with LEDs, and the air-conditioning uses the latest energy-saving technology.

With treatments priced on the lower end of the prestige scale for Paris — around 80 euros, or $106 at current exchange, for a one-hour massage or wrap — De Courcel said the spa business is not likely to become a big earner for the company.

“The point is not to make money directly, but to get more customers interested in our products by showing them in their best light,” he explained.

L’Occitane executives declined to comment on forecasts — however, industry sources estimate the Parisian space could generate $1 million in its first year.

L’Occitane, based in Manosque-en-Provence, France, generated 2007 sales of 415 million euros, or $569 million at average exchange. That represented a 24 percent increase on the previous year, mainly due to aggressive store expansion, according to the company.