French vine-therapy brand Caudalie eyes Asia growth

By Pascale Denis

PARIS, Oct 23 (Reuters) - French "vine-therapy" skincare brand Caudalie plans to resist the attention of larger predators and pursue expansion in Asia to capitalise on the Chinese cosmetics boom.

The family business, which specialises in products sourced from grapes and has a flagship spa in the wine-making region of Bordeaux at the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte winery, aims to build on the success of its new Asia office and store in Hong Kong, co-founder Mathilde Thomas told Reuters in an interview.

"Asia is growing rapidly," she said, adding that the region represented only a small part of revenues.

Caudalie has also expanded into the United States with the opening of a spa offering grape-themed cleanses at the Plaza Hotel in New York, where Thomas now lives with husband and co-founder Bertrand Thomas.

The company's rise hasn't gone unnoticed.

"We have received expressions of interest from all the big companies, but we are happy to stay independent," Thomas said, without naming the companies.

Luxury goods group LVMH and cosmetics giant L'Oreal declined to comment on whether they had made approaches.

Caudalie estimates that revenue will grow 13 percent this year to 130 million euros ($179 million).

The United States accounts for about 10 percent of total revenue, with the slower-growing French market providing about 50 percent.

Expansion abroad and new openings in Europe should help to lift overall revenue growth to 15 percent in 2014, Thomas said, adding that Caudalie plans to open an outlet in Milan and two new spas in Ukraine and Chile.