Sugar skates on in health care

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The Independent Online
AMSTRAD and Tottenham Hotspur owner Alan Sugar last week opened a new chapter in his varied entrepreneurial career with the introduction of the Integra Bodyskate, a device resembling an iron on wheels. It is the second in his new line in health and beauty products; the first, the Integra Face Care System, hit the market in 1995 and has so far sold 40,000 units in the UK.

Speaking at the launch at London Studio, which was introduced by BBC sports presenter Sue Barker, the Sugar team explained that the Bodyskate is a "toner and massager" which users roll over their body to "improve skin tonicity whilst exercising and tightening the muscles".

Providing a testimonial for the Bodyskate, England rugby union star Jeremy Guscott said: "Men can be a bit funny sometimes about admitting using a beauty product like this, especially down at the rugby club." But he added: "It is a product to use with my wife. We set it up and off we go."

The Bodyskate seemed to at least one observer to look more like a miniature moon buggy than a health aid. Nevertheless, Mr Sugar believes it fills a gap in the health care market, and it will sell for pounds 169 in shops and pounds 189 through the post.

Mr Sugar defended the price tag by saying: "You would pay up to pounds 40 per visit for this sort of treatment at a professional salon." Drawing on his background in computers, he added that the "low cost of this electronic product is achieved by the fact it has only one single chip".

Integra, a division of Amstrad, has teamed up with skin-care specialists Beauty Through Herbs, which will supply a massage toning balm and a sport muscular gel cream to accompany the homecare body system. Together they have spent over pounds 1m on the Bodyskate, including the cost of advertising and a training programme for staff who will sell the system.

Mr Sugar, asked if he had used the Bodyskate himself, answered that he had not. But he noted that: "Although I have sold 7 million to 8 million computers in my lifetime, I still can't use one."

He has, however, tried Integra's first beauty product, the Integra Face Care System, to "get rid of the furrows on my forehead". These, he said, were "probably caused by worries about the relegation of Spurs".