Buxom, described as “small but promising” by Houdayer, will need an uplift in visibility. Orveon’s aim is for employees to work across all brands rather than operating in separate siloes, which is appealing to employees and also helps cross-collaboration on product development and marketing. Some 1,500 employees from Shiseido chose to join Orveon, which represents 94 per cent of the original workforce, according to the company.
What happens next?
This is not the first time that ownership of the brands has changed hands. Shiseido purchased Laura Mercier in 2016, and Bare Minerals and Buxom back in 2010, when the beauty market was very different. It’s possible that the brands may thrive under a small umbrella and with more close attention, says Ransley Carpio, head of venture investments at Fortress Brands, a global beauty brand accelerator. “These brands were attractive enough to be acquired by a large strategic before, but perhaps the brands lost their way within a big beauty structure. Now, they’re being reformed,” he says. Carpio agrees that a brand refresh — “defined by positioning, look and feel, messaging and distribution” — is needed to ensure the brands resonate in a crowded marketplace.
More acquisitions are planned for the future, although Orveon will be selective with its beauty categories. “We are weak on cleansing and protection, so we will focus on brands that have strengths there,” says Houdayer.
He cites Naos-owned Bioderma as an example of a reference point. “We want to increase the skincare innovation in our portfolio. We are a global company, and protection, not just against the sun but also against pollution, is a major concern around the world, especially in Asia and the Middle East.”
Both indie brands and big-ticket companies are on the table. “We are not closing off any options at this point,” insists Houdayer. “Strategically, as long as the brands would fit in our vision of being sustainable and focusing on the face, they could be of interest.”
Not every brand founder wants the same exit, notes Baird’s Leibrandt. “The option of selling to a large beauty strategic won’t appeal to everyone. With the increase in options to exit or achieve meaningful liquidity by bringing in a minority partner, founders can find the partner and ownership structure that works best for them.” For Orveon however, Houdayer says the goal is full acquisition and integration into the Orveon ecosystem, not minority stakes. The challenge for Orveon will then be to not only identify attractive targets but to convince them of the benefits of a total takeover. Flexibility, creative control and adaptability will likely be just as important to founders as the infrastructure, family of brands and payout any conglomerate can offer.
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