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Phytomer: Celebrating the sea

The story surrounding Phytomer is one of a unique wellness vision, a loyal family, remarkable marine science and pioneering skincare. We talk to deputy general manager Mathilde Gédouin-Lagarde as the company celebrates its 50th anniversary


It’s been five decades since French entrepreneur Jean Gédouin sought to harness the essential benefits of the sea around his native Brittany, and turn its powerful properties into an iconic skincare brand that’s now loved and used the world over.

The captivating family story of Phytomer involves three ambitious generations – grandfather Jean, who pioneered the idea of turning the sea into wellness skincare; his son Antoine, who focused on developing exceptional marine research and development standards, and putting Phytomer on the international stage; and Antoine’s daughter Mathilde, who together with her husband Tristan have spent more than a decade gaining detailed experience in every part of the business – from product development, branding and distribution, to launching two Phytomer spas.

Mathilde and Tristan are the dedicated couple who are now poised to lead the brand into its next exciting half century. Mathilde says: “We’ve made Phytomer a leading spa brand while remaining true to my grandfather’s aspirations. We believe more than ever in a world where people want to reconnect with what is essential: nature; physical and mental wellness, and other people.”

Passion for research
The bracing coastal environment around St Malo in Brittany is still very much the physical home and spiritual heart of Phytomer. It’s where the company has developed 10,000sq m of laboratories that are setting the benchmark for marine biotechnology globally.

Mathilde says: “Research has been a key driver from the very beginning. We’ve extended our science facilities and invested in the most advanced technologies and human skills, year on year.

“We have state-of-the art processes to cultivate marine plants micro algae and plankton to produce natural active ingredients which deliver remarkable results for the skin.

“We have the testing capabilities today that would have only been open to medical facilities in past decades. Our scientists are using advanced genetic and biological analysis models to evaluate the effectiveness of these molecules on skin cells.”

Within those impressive R&D facilities can be found 30 researchers (many of Phytomer’s staff have been with them for decades), 1,000sq m of sustainable algae and 4,000sq m of organic plant cultivation, plus a manufacturing plant that processes two million units per year.

Phytomer products and treatment protocols can now be found in over 10,000 spas across 80 different countries - from Mongolia to the Maldives, Finland to Australia.

Mathilde says: “We always partner with local distributors who have a very strong knowledge of their own culture, and make the most of their feedback to adjust our offers locally.

“We started as early as 1983 In Italy, 1985 in the USA and Canada, before exploring the whole world. It has made us very humble when it comes to deciding which treatment is going to be a hit in each country, or which tone of voice we should use. We listen to local needs and customise the offer as much as we can. I think this is the cornerstone of our success abroad.”

Holistic treatments
Treatment protocols have always been as important to Phytomer as its products, and as early as the 1980s, Phytomer created a holistic spa experience that was as good for the skin as it was for the mind.

Mathilde says: “Each of our facials and body treatments deliver a head-to-toe holistic experience. Our protocols are 100 per cent manual, valuing human contact, and replenishing body and soul, all using spa formulas with the highest concentration of natural, active ingredients.

“Phytomer is proud to work with some of the most prestigious spa resorts worldwide, and assist them in creating bespoke spa menus and signature treatments that cater perfectly for their customer profile.”

The first Phytomer spa opened in St Malo in 2000, and in recent years the brand has opened two flagship spas in Paris. Providing a focus for the brand, Mathilde says the spas have also created a space to gain valuable direct feedback from customers on products, and to better shape its treatment and therapist training protocols in a live environment.

While a large chain of its own spas is not in the masterplan, Mathilde says Phytomer may consider opening a few more flagships in different countries, if there is an appetite from its leading distributors.

Much to celebrate
So what celebrations lie in store for Phytomer’s 50th anniversary this year? Mathilde says she’s very happy to leave behind the multiple pandemic lockdowns of the past two years and get back out meeting B2B customers face to face. There will be a big event for the company’s international distributors in St Malo in May, an anniversary roadshow visiting 10 cities around France, as well as many celebrations across Phytomer’s worldwide network.

Innovation-wise, Phytomer will release Oligo 6, a marine concentrate, packed with trace elements, vitamins and prebiotics, as well as a premium facial treatment, offering remarkable anti-aging results.

Above all, she acknowledges the privilege of soon heading up a spa skincare company that has remained an independent family business for 50 years. “We remain true to our values and work ethics,” she says. “With no outside pressure from investors, we can make all our decisions based on what’s right for the brand, our employees, our customers, and of course the environment.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished thanks to our partners and colleagues, and excited for the future.”

Over the next two years, there will be more focus on developing organic lines (the first, Cyfolia, launched in 2020), a biotechnology production unit (2024), an ambitious merchandising programme to help clients with spa design and product staging, and refillable product containers.

So much has been achieved in the past 50 years, but when it comes to harnessing the power of the sea, Mathilde admits that science has only just scraped the surface. “Around 90 per cent of marine organisms are microscopic and only 1 per cent of them have been identified. And from just one extracted organism comes the potential for many different formulas. So there is still much work to do, and so many incredible marine wellness benefits yet to discover.”

Phytomer timeline

1972 Jean Gédouin creates Phytomer so that everyone can experience the sea’s exceptional benefits. Launches Oligomer, a powerful sea concentrate

1978 Phytomer opens its first laboratories on the former family farm in Brittany

1981 Jean’s son Antoine joins the family business. He develops the company internationally and invests heavily in state-of-the-art research facilities

1982 International expansion begins, with the first country being Italy

1985 New R&D labs opened, with Romuald Vallée, who is still Phytomer’s head of science. Also, first joint venture in the US

1991 Antoine Gédouin co-founds the International Spa Association (ISPA) in the US

1998 Major success in Japan. The Japanese love Oligomer!

2000 Phytomer opens its first spa, in St Malo, Brittany

2007 New filtering gardens in Brittany to clean the production water in a sustainable and eco-friendly way

2010 Mathilde Gédouin-Lagarde and her husband Tristan Lagarde join the family business

2012 Creation of a new marine biotech laboratory, where the iconic Pionierre XMF line is born a few years later

2017 Phytomer receives the EcoVadis Gold Certification in recognition of its CSR work, ranking it among the world’s most sustainable companies

2018 Phytomer opens its first wellness spa in Paris, a few minutes from the famous Champs-Elysee

2020 Launch of new sustainable packaging, and the organic Cyfolia line

2021 Phytomer opens its second spa in Paris, a short walk from the Eiffel Tower

2022 Phytomer is celebrating its 50th anniversary in more than 80 countries, in collaboration with 10,000 spas and some of the best therapists in the world

The coastal environment around St Malo in Brittany is the physical home and spiritual heart of Phytomer Credit: Photo: Phytomer
Phytomer has harnessed the essential benefits of the sea for more than 50 years Credit: photo: Phytomer
10,000sq m of laboratories are setting the benchmark in marine research Credit: Photo: Phytomer
Each face and body treatment delivers a head-to-toe holistic experience Credit: Photo: Phytomer
The first Phytomer spa opened in St Malo in 2000, and the brand has recently opened two flagship spas in Paris Credit: Photo: Phytomer
Phytomer products are made from natural marine extracts, with concentrated active ingredients Credit: Photo: Phytomer
Phytomer products are made from natural marine extracts, with concentrated active ingredients Credit: Phytomer
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Sponsored
Phytomer: Celebrating the sea

The story surrounding Phytomer is one of a unique wellness vision, a loyal family, remarkable marine science and pioneering skincare. We talk to deputy general manager Mathilde Gédouin-Lagarde as the company celebrates its 50th anniversary


It’s been five decades since French entrepreneur Jean Gédouin sought to harness the essential benefits of the sea around his native Brittany, and turn its powerful properties into an iconic skincare brand that’s now loved and used the world over.

The captivating family story of Phytomer involves three ambitious generations – grandfather Jean, who pioneered the idea of turning the sea into wellness skincare; his son Antoine, who focused on developing exceptional marine research and development standards, and putting Phytomer on the international stage; and Antoine’s daughter Mathilde, who together with her husband Tristan have spent more than a decade gaining detailed experience in every part of the business – from product development, branding and distribution, to launching two Phytomer spas.

Mathilde and Tristan are the dedicated couple who are now poised to lead the brand into its next exciting half century. Mathilde says: “We’ve made Phytomer a leading spa brand while remaining true to my grandfather’s aspirations. We believe more than ever in a world where people want to reconnect with what is essential: nature; physical and mental wellness, and other people.”

Passion for research
The bracing coastal environment around St Malo in Brittany is still very much the physical home and spiritual heart of Phytomer. It’s where the company has developed 10,000sq m of laboratories that are setting the benchmark for marine biotechnology globally.

Mathilde says: “Research has been a key driver from the very beginning. We’ve extended our science facilities and invested in the most advanced technologies and human skills, year on year.

“We have state-of-the art processes to cultivate marine plants micro algae and plankton to produce natural active ingredients which deliver remarkable results for the skin.

“We have the testing capabilities today that would have only been open to medical facilities in past decades. Our scientists are using advanced genetic and biological analysis models to evaluate the effectiveness of these molecules on skin cells.”

Within those impressive R&D facilities can be found 30 researchers (many of Phytomer’s staff have been with them for decades), 1,000sq m of sustainable algae and 4,000sq m of organic plant cultivation, plus a manufacturing plant that processes two million units per year.

Phytomer products and treatment protocols can now be found in over 10,000 spas across 80 different countries - from Mongolia to the Maldives, Finland to Australia.

Mathilde says: “We always partner with local distributors who have a very strong knowledge of their own culture, and make the most of their feedback to adjust our offers locally.

“We started as early as 1983 In Italy, 1985 in the USA and Canada, before exploring the whole world. It has made us very humble when it comes to deciding which treatment is going to be a hit in each country, or which tone of voice we should use. We listen to local needs and customise the offer as much as we can. I think this is the cornerstone of our success abroad.”

Holistic treatments
Treatment protocols have always been as important to Phytomer as its products, and as early as the 1980s, Phytomer created a holistic spa experience that was as good for the skin as it was for the mind.

Mathilde says: “Each of our facials and body treatments deliver a head-to-toe holistic experience. Our protocols are 100 per cent manual, valuing human contact, and replenishing body and soul, all using spa formulas with the highest concentration of natural, active ingredients.

“Phytomer is proud to work with some of the most prestigious spa resorts worldwide, and assist them in creating bespoke spa menus and signature treatments that cater perfectly for their customer profile.”

The first Phytomer spa opened in St Malo in 2000, and in recent years the brand has opened two flagship spas in Paris. Providing a focus for the brand, Mathilde says the spas have also created a space to gain valuable direct feedback from customers on products, and to better shape its treatment and therapist training protocols in a live environment.

While a large chain of its own spas is not in the masterplan, Mathilde says Phytomer may consider opening a few more flagships in different countries, if there is an appetite from its leading distributors.

Much to celebrate
So what celebrations lie in store for Phytomer’s 50th anniversary this year? Mathilde says she’s very happy to leave behind the multiple pandemic lockdowns of the past two years and get back out meeting B2B customers face to face. There will be a big event for the company’s international distributors in St Malo in May, an anniversary roadshow visiting 10 cities around France, as well as many celebrations across Phytomer’s worldwide network.

Innovation-wise, Phytomer will release Oligo 6, a marine concentrate, packed with trace elements, vitamins and prebiotics, as well as a premium facial treatment, offering remarkable anti-aging results.

Above all, she acknowledges the privilege of soon heading up a spa skincare company that has remained an independent family business for 50 years. “We remain true to our values and work ethics,” she says. “With no outside pressure from investors, we can make all our decisions based on what’s right for the brand, our employees, our customers, and of course the environment.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished thanks to our partners and colleagues, and excited for the future.”

Over the next two years, there will be more focus on developing organic lines (the first, Cyfolia, launched in 2020), a biotechnology production unit (2024), an ambitious merchandising programme to help clients with spa design and product staging, and refillable product containers.

So much has been achieved in the past 50 years, but when it comes to harnessing the power of the sea, Mathilde admits that science has only just scraped the surface. “Around 90 per cent of marine organisms are microscopic and only 1 per cent of them have been identified. And from just one extracted organism comes the potential for many different formulas. So there is still much work to do, and so many incredible marine wellness benefits yet to discover.”

Phytomer timeline

1972 Jean Gédouin creates Phytomer so that everyone can experience the sea’s exceptional benefits. Launches Oligomer, a powerful sea concentrate

1978 Phytomer opens its first laboratories on the former family farm in Brittany

1981 Jean’s son Antoine joins the family business. He develops the company internationally and invests heavily in state-of-the-art research facilities

1982 International expansion begins, with the first country being Italy

1985 New R&D labs opened, with Romuald Vallée, who is still Phytomer’s head of science. Also, first joint venture in the US

1991 Antoine Gédouin co-founds the International Spa Association (ISPA) in the US

1998 Major success in Japan. The Japanese love Oligomer!

2000 Phytomer opens its first spa, in St Malo, Brittany

2007 New filtering gardens in Brittany to clean the production water in a sustainable and eco-friendly way

2010 Mathilde Gédouin-Lagarde and her husband Tristan Lagarde join the family business

2012 Creation of a new marine biotech laboratory, where the iconic Pionierre XMF line is born a few years later

2017 Phytomer receives the EcoVadis Gold Certification in recognition of its CSR work, ranking it among the world’s most sustainable companies

2018 Phytomer opens its first wellness spa in Paris, a few minutes from the famous Champs-Elysee

2020 Launch of new sustainable packaging, and the organic Cyfolia line

2021 Phytomer opens its second spa in Paris, a short walk from the Eiffel Tower

2022 Phytomer is celebrating its 50th anniversary in more than 80 countries, in collaboration with 10,000 spas and some of the best therapists in the world

The coastal environment around St Malo in Brittany is the physical home and spiritual heart of Phytomer Credit: Photo: Phytomer
Phytomer has harnessed the essential benefits of the sea for more than 50 years Credit: photo: Phytomer
10,000sq m of laboratories are setting the benchmark in marine research Credit: Photo: Phytomer
Each face and body treatment delivers a head-to-toe holistic experience Credit: Photo: Phytomer
The first Phytomer spa opened in St Malo in 2000, and the brand has recently opened two flagship spas in Paris Credit: Photo: Phytomer
Phytomer products are made from natural marine extracts, with concentrated active ingredients Credit: Photo: Phytomer
Phytomer products are made from natural marine extracts, with concentrated active ingredients Credit: Phytomer
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DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

02 Jun 2022

Forum HOTel&SPA

Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, France
02-05 Jun 2022

Rimini Wellness

Rimini Exhibition Center, Rimini, Italy
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ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2022

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
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