* Razor market dominated by Gillette, Wilkinson Sword
* Nivea to expand test beyond Germany, disposables
* New products, innovations help drive Q3 results (Adds comments from conference calls)
By Emma Thomasson
BERLIN, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Nivea skin cream maker Beiersdorf said a test launch of a new razor for women had made a strong start, its expansion into a new market posing a potential threat to Procter & Gamble’s Gillette.
A disposable razor that launched in Austria in February and in Germany in September was selling “extremely well” and was close to taking the lead in a market currently dominated by Gillette’s Venus brand, said Chief Executive Stefan Heidenreich.
P&G, which bought Gillette in 2005, controls 54 percent of the global market for women’s blades and razors, followed by Energizer Holdings’ Wilkinson Sword on 22 percent, according to Euromonitor data.
Just as Nivea encroaches on its territory, Gillette has expanded in recent years beyond razors into products like body wash and deodorant.
Heidenreich said Beiersdorf expects to expand beyond disposables and beyond the current test markets, although it would only focus on products for women for now, noting that the market was relatively small compared to skin cream or deodorant.
“When we do something like this we mean business and will drive it further,” he told a conference call for journalists.
Nivea has retreated from attempts to expand into make-up and haircare, but Heidenreich said the move into razors fitted well with the company’s ambition to be the world’s top skin care firm.
The Nivea razor is being sold with a range of new Nivea shaving skin products. Heidenreich ruled out expanding into perfume, saying a product on offer in a few Nivea stores in Germany would not be rolled out further.
Heidenreich made the comments after the world’s second largest company in skin care behind L‘Oreal reported a 55 percent increase in its third-quarter operating profit and raised its margin guidance for 2015, helped by new products and higher prices.
The improvement was driven by its consumer division, which accounts for about 80 percent of sales and includes its skin and hair-care brands, while Beiersdorf cut its outlook for its Tesa unit, which makes industrial adhesives.
Beiersdorf shares were up 3 percent at 1220 GMT. DZ Bank analyst Thomas Maul said the quarterly figures implied organic sales growth for the consumer unit of around 6 percent, compared with 3.3 percent in the same period for L‘Oreal.
Since taking the helm in 2012, Heidenreich has invested in new formulas and products under the Nivea label, which was first introduced in 1911 and is now the fifth most valuable beauty brand, worth $5.6 billion in 2012 according to Forbes magazine. ($1 = 0.9143 euros) (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Victoria Bryan)