A locally manufactured range of skin care products will soon be found in major retail outlets across Hong Kong following a deal with one of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical wholesalers.

The contract will see the Natalie Group’s range of aromatherapy, essential oils, natural skin and body care products distributed exclusively across Hong Kong by YC Ho Limited.

After exporting products directly to salons in Fiji, Singapore and New Zealand for 12 years, Natalie Group CEO Claire Mitchell (pictured) is adamant the 12-month deal will be a stepping stone into China.

“It is often said in business that Hong Kong is the window into China. If you want to do well in China often you’ve got to establish successful export operations into Hong Kong first,” says Mitchell.

“It’s much more of a free port in Hong Kong. China is a far higher risk and the way they do business there is vastly different- you’ve got to have the capital and resources to enter that market. We are also receiving a lot of support from Trade Queensland for our Hong Kong operations.”

Locally the company recently secured Dolce Vita Beauty Supplies as exclusive distributor of the natural skin and body essentials brand for Australia and New Zealand.

The deal will increase the company’s network of wholesalers 10-fold from six to 60 and secure the Natalie Group as a leader in exclusive professional salon beauty products.

Mitchell explains the importance for the company to segregate the brand from the local retail market.

“In Australia it’s professional salons only whereas in Hong Kong we’ve signed a distribution agreement into retail. It’s important not to transcend those industry barriers here as salon owners don’t want to see their exclusive products sold in retail stores,” she says.

The company turns over ‘small amounts of millions’ in revenue and employs five full-time staff. It forecasts 150 per cent growth for the next financial year based on the ‘exciting’ new distribution channels.

Mitchell has lived on the Gold Coast for 15 years and took control of the company in July 2009 after identifying high growth and export potential.

She is the former finance director of New Zealand-based Endace Ltd and was part of the cornerstone team behind the technology company’s successful listing on the London AIM stock exchange, (current market capitalisation £30 million).

She also continues to work as director and COO for Auckland-based technology development company Imarda.

The 38-year-old says her primary driver is taking small companies to new levels and she ‘loves’ the step up from COO, CFO and director to her first CEO role.

“I’ve always had reasonably free control over the financial decisions of companies, but as CEO all the decisions are ultimately yours and some decisions are harder than others,” says Mitchell.

“People always ask me why I’ve moved from a high tech company into a skin-care company, and the truth is there really are a lot of synergies between the two industries. This company has been around for more than 20 years, has been tried and tested by professionals around the country and has real credibility in the market – the challenges lie in taking that to a higher volume and entering additional markets.”

Samford-based Natalie Group was founded in 1987 by aromatherapist Natalie Isaacs and now produces the majority of the all-natural products out of Gavin through Cosmetics Manufacturers.

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