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Rotorua Mud Headed To Thai Beauty Spas

Rotorua Mud Headed To Thai Beauty Spas

Hamilton, April 8, 2003 -- Geothermal mud from Rotorua is being exported to Thailand for its beauty therapy properties. Hamilton-based New Zealand Skin Care Company has secured a $100,000 export deal with its Geo Skincare range of professional beauty spa products, made with geothermal mud.

Penny Vergeest, who founded the New Zealand Skin Care Company in1998 with her husband Mark, says the deal has doubled their business overnight.

Geo Skincare will be sold to beauty therapists throughout Thailand and marketed for its natural approach to skin care. The range is not tested on animals and contains no mineral oil, lanolin, artificial fragrance or colouring, or formaldehyde.

Vergeest says that for centuries people have benefited from the unique properties of geothermal mud and New Zealand is lucky to have its own geothermal fields.

“Geothermal mud has a high mineral content with calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and sodium which are all good for cell regeneration, an important part of good skin care. It also has a high percentage of silica which is good for promoting collagen and elastin and it is generally good for enhancing the body’s wellbeing and vitality,” Vergeest says.

The skincare range of 11 products is available exclusively from selected beauty therapy clinics and health spas in New Zealand and will also be used by beauty professionals in Thailand.

“I’m a qualified beauty therapist and I saw there was a market that wasn’t being filled for a good quality natural New Zealand beauty therapy product,” Vergeest says.

Having established a strong business base in New Zealand, the company started looking at export potential last year and approached Trade New Zealand in Hamilton.

Regional account manager Tina Woods says the New Zealand Skincare Company’s export success story has been a rapid one.

“In September last year, Penny Vergeest contacted us regarding export opportunities for her skincare range and we decided to look first at the South East Asian markets because there is a strong health and spa beauty market there. She was very sure of the market she wanted and that was beauty therapists and professional spas, not just the local chemist store.

"By December we had a report from Trade New Zealand in Bangkok and there was already strong interest from a company in Thailand. That company was over here signing a deal by January this year,” Woods says.

Trade New Zealand in Bangkok provided valuable information about the Thai cosmetics market and identified strong growth potential for natural-based skincare products. New Zealand was seen as having a strong selling point with its “clean and green” image. Products, such as Geo Skincare, that are environmentally friendly, not tested on animals, and claim to benefit health were seen as ideal for the Thai market.

Geo Skincare will be distributed in Thailand by Tropical Spa, exclusively for a year initially. Representatives from that company visited the Vergeests in January this year and went to look at the source of the geothermal mud in Tikitere, Rotorua. They also did some training with the product and the first shipment goes to Thailand in April. The product had to pass approval of the Thai Food and Drug Administration.

“We couldn’t have done it without Trade New Zealand,” Vergeest says. “Apart from the market reports and advice, they’ve given us peace of mind. Exporting can be really difficult, especially with Asian countries and knowing how to go about finding reputable companies to deal with. By working with Trade New Zealand you know the companies have been vetted and a lot of the initial work is done. The Tropical Spa people knew about the product, they had seen pricing they were happy with it and by the time they came to New Zealand, it was really just to sign the deal.”

Other export markets are opening up for New Zealand Skin Care Company. The Vergeests are in the process of working with companies in Taiwan, California (for a new men’s range) and South Africa regarding distribution contracts. The company has also had a presence in a natural product expo in London, as part of a Trade New Zealand stand.

Vergeest says she is well set up for big export deals if they come her way. “The way production works is we have to do quite substantial runs, so we have good warehousing capabilities.”

The mud is mined in Rotorua then sent to a pharmaceutical company in Auckland to be manufactured into Geo Skincare products. And is there enough mud to meet export demand?

“The mud will outlast me by at least 100 years!” Vergeest says.

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