Cork trio launch ‘Star­bucks of cos­metic clin­ics’

Doc­tor-led beauty chain with Pat Phe­lan at the helm is aim­ing for €200m global sales, writes John Reynolds

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

CORK se­rial en­tre­pre­neur Pat Phe­lan has co-founded Sisu Aes­thetic Clinic, a doc­tor-led chain of aes­thetic beauty clin­ics that aims to open in at least 100 lo­ca­tions here and in the UK and Europe within the next three years.

Part­ner­ing with Cork doctors Brian and James Cot­ter, he has raised €1m in seed fund­ing from fel­low Corko­nian in­vestors PCH founder Liam Casey and Vox­pro founders Linda Kiely, who is join­ing Sisu’s board, and her hus­band Dan.

Other in­vestors in­clude a se­nior player in Dublin’s prop­erty sec­tor and Barry O’brien of Sil­i­con Val­ley Bank.

Between them, Phe­lan, who is the CEO, and the Cot­ters own a ma­jor­ity stake in the busi­ness. It cur­rently has 12 em­ploy­ees in­clud­ing them and a for­mer brand man­ager from car-maker Ford.

Long-time friends of Phe­lan, the Cot­ters founded Cork-based Vis­age Clin­ics, which have been re­branded as Sisu ones in an as­set fold-in deal.

Sisu — a Fin­nish term mean­ing ra­tio­nal strength of will in the face of ad­ver­sity — has al­ready prompted in­ter­est from sev­eral Euro­pean ven­ture cap­i­tal funds and es­tab­lished clin­ics in the US. The busi­ness will raise growth cap­i­tal to scale up when the time is right, Phe­lan said.

“We have a €200m op­por­tu­nity to be the go-to brand in this sec­tor. We’ve got the right doc­tor-led model and the right mar­ket­ing strat­egy. We want to be­come the es­tab­lished, rep­utable safe, pa­tient-cen­tric clinic brand that peo­ple will choose first. It’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary chance to be­come the Star­bucks of cos­metic treat­ment,” he said.

For Phe­lan — whose last busi­ness, pay­ment fraud de­tec­tion firm Trustev sold to Tran­sunion for $44m in late 2015 — there is a hint of irony associated with Sisu. In his ear­lier startup, Cu­bic Tele­com, he and his Trustev co-founder Chris Kennedy worked to­gether from a spare room in a wax­ing, tan­ning and nail salon.

Now Phe­lan is launch­ing a global beauty chain aim­ing to raise treat­ment stan­dards to the high­est lev­els. “We’re talk­ing to UK or­gan­i­sa­tions about this, and if we be­come big enough we’d like to drive bet­ter reg­u­la­tion,” he said.

Among the treat­ments that Sisu will of­fer, priced from €300, are lip and der­mal fillers, Bo­tox facelifts, and jaw and chin re­shap­ing. The com­pany says 30pc of pa­tients at Sisu’s Cork clinic are men.

The global mar­ket for such treat­ments could be worth over €6bn by 2025, and is grow­ing by 10pc a year, in­dus­try an­a­lysts say.

With three ex­ist­ing clin­ics in Cork, Dublin and Kil­lar­ney, the chain will open in at least 10 UK city lo­ca­tions, with Lis­bon, Ber­lin and Stock­holm and oth­ers to fol­low in the Nordics, cen­tral Europe and Spain.

A hun­dred Sisu clin­ics, re­quir­ing about 150 doctors, could gen­er­ate up­wards of €50m of sales within three years, with sim­i­lar or higher fig­ures ap­ply­ing to the US mar­ket.

Doctors will be self-em­ployed, while Sisu will own the clin­ics, Phe­lan added.

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