ELMIS’S NATURAL APPROACH

Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — Elemis, Ltd., wants to be a global brand, and it needs the more mature customer to get there.
The aromatherapy treatment company recently launched a string of products aimed at the more mature woman. They’re part of a total makeover of Elemis that includes new formulations and packaging and the launch of Elemis day spas in major cities worldwide. Elemis, which is based in Stanmore, England, is owned by the Bahamas-based cruise ship and spa operator Steiner Leisure.
“We’ve always had a strong customer base among women from their early 20s to their early 30s,” said Noella Gabriel, the company’s international training manager. “We needed to target the more mature woman. She may have been using Elemis anyway, but we needed to look into the whole area and bring the products up to date.”
Elemis — which focuses on essential oils and extracts from organically grown plants, flowers and herbs — purports to have developed a new extraction process, the results of which are “absolutes” that have stronger aromas than the essential oils generally used in aromatherapy products, good viscous texture and excellent rehydrating properties, Gabriel said. “To offer serious skin care for the maturer, dehydrated skin, you have to go the absolutes route,” she noted.
The Elemis products best for a more mature customer include Active Skin Complex, Vital Neck-Firming Cream, Absolute Day Cream and Absolute NightCream and Enriching Plant Essence. Its products retail from $12.30 for Cooling Eye Gel and Lip Rescue to $85.28 for the Active Skin Complex. Most products average about $32.80.
The new products use absolutes of rose and jasmine, as well as of mimosa, black currant and honey. “It’s taking aromatherapy from body care into skin care,” Gabriel said. “The Absolute Day Cream has 15 ingredients in it, and it’s like a multivitamin potion for the skin, which for the more mature customer is a must.”
And even after a two-year process of reformulation and repackaging, Elemis isn’t content with its 85 stockkeeping unit line. There are another 30 products in the pipeline for introduction later this year, including a new facial treatment package, Gabriel said.
Elemis was founded eight years ago and established its reputation with its aromatherapy bases, all-natural materials and detailed ingredients lists, including the Latin names for all its materials to give the exact plants used.
The company’s main distribution channels have always been spas and beauty centers, although it is carried in London by Space NK and Harrods. There are no plans to increase distribution through retailers, said Sean Harrington, the company’s managing director. Elemis has always been a main supplier of products to the Steiner cruise ships along with La Therapie, and in May 1996, Steiner bought the two companies to guarantee its supplies. Steiner paid $219,000 for the rights to the brands, which had net asset values of $543,000 at the time of the purchase, according to Steiner’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Steiner, which has a market capitalization of more than $500 million and sales last year of more than $87 million, is now investing heavily in Elemis to build it into a global beauty brand beyond its supplying Steiner’s 94 cruise ships, each of which have 12 to 28 beauty rooms. Steiner, which is listed on NASDAQ, does not break out sales of Elemis, although it said its product sales in the first quarter of 1998 were about $1.3 million.
In addition to the product relaunch, Elemis and Steiner are expanding into spa development, including the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas, The Pyramids in Dubai, Forest Mere in England and Celtic Manor in Wales. “These are showcases for the brand to promote its products,” Harrington said.
“We also are launching Elemis day spa centers worldwide and over the next three to four years will build 140 Elemis centers in primary shopping streets in major cities, such as Bond or Sloane Street in London.”
Elemis has operated pilot day spas in Hong Kong for the last six years and now plans to open one in London this fall, followed by others in the Far East and the U.S. through franchises or joint ventures. Each center will be about 350 to 600 square feet in size, with three to five beauty rooms apiece. They will offer a full range of Elemis treatments.
The day spas will be Elemis’s first major push into the U.S., where it already has sales of more than $2 million a year through a toll-free number, Harrington said. Most of its U.S. customers discover Elemis from taking a cruise.
“The problem with the U.S. is that it’s huge and requires the most investment,” he said. “By holding back, we’ve created a demand, and now we’re ready to enter that market.
“We’re now ready to invest for growth over the next three years,” Harrington added.
“We firmly believe we can reach the leagues of the Clarinses of the world — and we can compete there.”

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