You Can Always
Go Home Again
After three years away, Zirh Holdings returns to it original owner.
By Joanna Cosgrove
Zirh Holdings is a New York-based men’s skin care range that was the brainchild of creator, Brian Robinson. In 2000, the line caught the eye of cosmetics and skin care giant, Shisiedo, which eventually bought the company in May 2004. In the three years that followed, Mr. Robinson grew to miss the industry and his line. Being removed from the day to day grind of running his business, his creative juices began to bubble and flow, and new ideas abounded. Last year the opportunity arose to buy back his beloved company – which he did in August 2007. He’s now steering the company to capitalize on the lucrative potential of the men’s grooming category with new lines, new products and new directions.
Regarding the sale and eventual buy-back of his company, Mr. Robinson said he sold the company as part of an acquisition strategy with Shisiedo in May 2000, when the Japanese firm originally acquired 58.3% of Zirh Holdings. “At that time we put in place certain milestones, etc. whereby they would ultimately be able to buy 100% of the stock in the company, which they ultimately did in October 2004,” he said. “As far as buying it back, I really missed being in the industry and getting back into Zirh allowed me to get my creative juices flowing again. It is very rare in today’s market for an independent brand to be a category leader. That was very attractive to me and I felt there was unfinished business to be done.”
Mr. Robinson said his re-entry into the men’s personal care grooming market has been an exciting one. Zirh currently spans approximately 28 skus and there are plans to bolster that number. Mr. Robinson has already charted a three-year business plan that will take the company in new directions, both from a new product and distribution point of view.
For starters, he recently announced the April launch of an ultra-premium sub-brand called Zirh Platinum, an exclusive eight-product range “that merge cosmeceutical science with the best in botanicals.” The line was formulated to satisfy the demands of “discerning male skin” by employing a “multi-active system powered with advanced peptides that have reparative benefits to firm skin and nano-technology (liposomes) to treat moisture loss and aging by restoring skin’s natural barrier function.”
“We saw an opportunity for an ultra luxe, technologically advanced line for men who are highly selective and discerning about their skincare and we developed Zirh Platinum as the ultimate collection to meet their needs,” he commented. “This line will be the absolute pinnacle in men’s skin care with regard to both technology and efficacy. It is the perfect hybrid of technological advancement and the power of plant-derived ingredients.”
Platinum will have extremely limited availability on a country by country basis. In the United States, it will be exclusive to Barneys, and in the UK we will be exclusive to Liberty of London.
“Also, we plan on really pushing the envelope in terms of creativity within the line,” he added. “Without getting into particulars, we will be launching some very exciting new products and entering new categories in 2008 and 2009.”
Fragrance also will be a more visible part of what the company intends to do going forward. “Having developed the John Varvatos and French Connection lines in the past we have a good working knowledge on how to develop a successful fragrance line,” he commented and added that although he originally signed the license and collaborated with John Varvatos to develop all the fragrance products when Zirh was at Shiseido, .Shiseido ultimately retained the Varvatos brand in the buy-back transaction. “We are currently in discussions with several potential partners regarding some cutting edge licensing opportunities which will lend themselves to the fragrance category,” he said.
As for his existing line, Mr. Robinson plans to broaden its distribution focus. “We still intend to nurture our department store distribution but will also seek out alternative distribution,” he noted. Zirh products – which industry sources said earned an estimated wholesale volume of $25MM in 2008 - will debut on the Home Shopping Network (HSN) this spring.