Cynosure Inc. plans to team up with the maker of Dove, Vaseline and Axe body spray to develop cosmetic lasers in a series of home use devices aimed at combating wrinkles and other signs of aging.
The Westford-based company announced a multi-year deal with consumer products giant Unilever, one of the largest consumer products companies in the world with over 400 brands spanning 14 different product categories.
Cynosure CFO Tim Baker told MassDevice that Unilever will fund the development of an over-the-counter product that uses technology developed for its AFFIRM anti-aging workstation. Baker said Univlever will throw its marketing and distribution muscle behind the product. Although the company approached Cynosure initially, Baker told us his firm has been looking to enter the home market for some time.
“We were looking for a marketing partner and they were looking for a technology partner,” he said.
It’s the second major move by a local cosmetic laser maker to enter the home beauty products market in as many months. In June, Burlington’s Palomar Medical Technologies Inc. won FDA clearance for an over-the-counter laser device for removing wrinkles, a product it developed in conjunction with Johnson & Johnson.
Baker said going after the home care market is a real opportunity to gain significant market share.
“The advantage is that it opens up a significantly larger market when you bring the technology into the home, as opposed to having to see a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist,” he said.
Baker confirmed that the deal with Unilever puts Cynosure in direct competition with Palomar.
He declined to elaborate on specific terms of the deal, describing it only as a “multi-year, funded cooperative agreement.” But the announcement comes at a fortuitous time for Cynosure, which has been hurt by a slowdown in the cosmetic laser market.
Last quarter the company reported a 61 percent drop in sales, reversing a net gain into a $4 million loss for the three-month period ended March 31.
The poor performance caused Cynosure to start aggressively shedding jobs to cut costs. The company laid off 17 percent of its staff in February and cut another 25 employees, about 10 percent of its total workforce, in March. Cynosure employs 271 workers, down from 288 at the end of 2008, after adding 11 employees to its new direct sales operation in Korea.
Baker said the company is in a quiet period before it releases its second-quarter results in late July, but added that the outlook is a lot better than it was in January.
“We feel we’re out of the bottom of the ‘U’ and working our way up the other side. The question is, ‘How big is the slope going to be?'” he said, adding that the biggest challenge facing Cynosure is still the North American credit market, which has hurt the company’s sales as money to make large capital expenditures dried up.
Most of Cynosure’s professional products range from $90,000 to $130,000, he said.