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Carlyle To Acquire Majority Stake in Beautycounter

The $1 billion acquisition fast-tracks growth in the clean beauty space.

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By: Tom Branna

Carlyle To Acquire Majority Stake in Beautycounter

Carlyle has acquired a majority stake in Beautycounter. The transaction values the company at $1 billion. According to Carlyle, the partnership allows Beautycounter to accelerate its strategic initiatives, including increasing brand awareness as well as bolstering the company’s innovative, integrated, omni-channel business model. 

“In 2013, I launched Beautycounter with the simple mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone,” said Beautycounter Founder and CEO Gregg Renfrew. “Today marks an exciting and important milestone for our company and I am so proud to partner with Carlyle as we continue to work toward achieving that mission. I have long admired Jay and the team at Carlyle for their experience working with brands at the intersection of cultural relevance and consumer demand and believe that our combined vision will be instrumental in accelerating Beautycounter as the leader in clean beauty, and in the beauty industry as a whole.”

The investment in Beautycounter builds on Carlyle’s long-term focus on partnering with founder-led brands focused on growth. Equity capital for the investment came from Carlyle Partners VII, an $18.5 billion fund that makes majority and strategic minority investments primarily in the US in targeted industries, including consumer, media and  retail.

“We are so excited to partner with Gregg and her outstanding executive team to support Beautycounter’s movement to bring safer products to consumers,” said Jay Sammons, head of global consumer, media & retail, The Carlyle Group. “Beautycounter is a pioneer and leader in the fast-growing clean beauty industry, and we see an opportunity to support a talented, founder-led team in amplifying the brand’s mission to change beauty forever.”

Beautycounter describes itself as a mission driven, digitally native, clean beauty brand that has continued to lead and define the future of the global beauty industry since its launch in 2013. The company maintains that its efforts have led the way for ingredient innovation and transparency. Beautycounter's The Never List is designed to ensure 1,800 questionable or potentially harmful ingredients are never used in its product formulations as part of its Blueprint for Clean; achieved clinically-proven product efficacy, creating award-winning makeup and skin care driving consumer loyalty; and prioritized advocacy, passing nine pieces of legislation to advance personal care product safety in the US. Despite the popularity of clean beauty, industry experts insist the term is a misnomer

Similar acquisitions may be imminent, predicts Audrey Depraeter-Montacel, global beauty lead for Accenture. She noted that in the space of a few months, the landscape has changed remarkably.

“With a big shakeup resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can expect to see an increase in investment activity as the crisis stabilizes,” she insisted. “Traditional players are evaluating differentiated, emerging brands that could strategically fit within their portfolio.”

According to  Depraeter-Montacel, there are many reasons to think beauty will be one of the sectors to bounce back strongly. For example, the industry has a history of technology-led innovation and organizational agility means it’s well placed to rebound from the pandemic.

“The industry continues to be disrupted by the growth of direct-to-consumer channels such as e-commerce platforms and the use of social media to engage directly with consumers,” said Depraeter-Montacel. “It comes as no surprise that e-commerce has reigned over the last year and isn’t going away, with consumers who previously only shopped infrequently online now being four times more likely to purchase their makeup and personal care products online now compared to pre-pandemic according to Accenture research.”

Depraeter-Montacel said the beauty market is experiencing accelerated shifts in consumer preferences. Innovative start-ups are selling on trend natural, organic, clean and cruelty-free products, predominantly to millennial consumers, who are more informed and seek transparency in ingredients, packaging, sustainability and ethical sourcing.

“Moving with pace, agility and creativity is what startups and disruptors do best,” she insisted. “They are adept at reinventing the beauty experience, making it much more than a transactional – selling products to many – event.”

If that's the case, expect more indie beauty brands to find eager investors on Wall Street and among multinationals in the fast-moving consumer goods space.

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