Simple brand put up for auction with a £250m price tag

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Skin care brand Goldman sachs

Simple, one of the leading skin care brands in the UK, has been put up for sale by private equity group Duke Street Capital with an estimated value of £250m.

The price is a guideline and according to an article in the online edition of UK newspaper The Times, offers in excess of this amount are expected from other skin care companies and private equity businesses.

The move follows a series of unsolicited approaches from other companies in the course of the last year.

Bidding should prove to be frantic as Simple is currently the country’s third most popular woman’s skin care brand and also stakes a claim to being the UK’s number one facial brand.

Simple Health and Beauty Group

The brand currently operates under the Simple Health and Beauty Group, having changed its name from Accentia in April of this year.

The current incarnation of the business was formed following a divestment by Smith & Nephew, after it had bought the brand in 2000.

Duke Street bought the business in 2004 for £225m, at which time it also included the Li-lets feminine hygiene brand, alongside the Simple brand.

Concentrating on the Simple brand

Since then Duke Street has sold off the Li-lets business, securing £80m for it in 2006, and has concentrated on growing the Simple brand in the UK.

The plan to grow the Simple brand has proved very successful, with sales in 2008 growing by 11 per cent to £61m, growth that has helped edge the brand from being the fourth best-selling women’s skin care brand in the country, to the third position.

It is also claimed to be the biggest UK skin care brand by volume, with current growth estimated at 15.4 per cent, a figure that far outweighs market growth for other leading skin care brands.

For sale by auction

The sale is expected to take place through an auction process, for which American banking group Goldman Sachs has been appointed as the official agent.

Based in Solihull, the company has undergone significant restructuring in recent years with the majority of its manufacturing contracted out, reducing its workforce from 300 to just 55 full-time staff.

In the company’s 2008 annual report it was noted that attempts to expand the brand into Scandinavia had been successful, suggesting that there may be further potential for overseas expansion as the brand appears to ‘resonate’ equally overseas.

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