Financial focus: L’Occitane, Unilever and more feature in our latest beauty business and finance update

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

[Getty Images]
[Getty Images]

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In this round-up of financial results, M&As and funding drives in the cosmetics industry, we highlight L’Occitane’s full-year results, Unilever’s acquisition of Paula’s Choice and more.

1 – India’s St. Botanica aiming to achieve sales of $13m this year by bringing global trends to the domestic market

India-based St. Botanica believes it is on its way to achieving its goal of surpassing U$13m in sales​ this year as it is set to launch a slew of skin care products that tap into the consumer demand for transparency.

The brand was established in 2015 by personal care firm Emmbros Overseas, which also owns four other brands including Oriental Botanics and Man Arden.

The brands are available on its official websites as well as leading e-commerce platforms in India, including Amazon, Flipkart and Nykaa. It is also available offline through several retail counters.

In the past year, the company managed to grow and profit despite the chaos of the pandemic. Founder Sahil Mehta attributed this to the brand’s wide-ranging product portfolio and its strong digital presence.

2 – ‘Human approach to beauty’: L’Occitane online sales grow 69% thanks to social selling initiatives

Hong Kong-listed L’Occitane International has credited the growth of its online sales​ in part to its successful social selling initiatives in markets including South Korea, Europe and the US.

L’Occitane International is a beauty retailer and manufacturer of brands including L’OCCITANE en Provence, Melvita, Erborian and Elemis.

Sales through its online channels expanded 69.2% in the fiscal year ending March, accounting for more than one-third of the group’s total sales.

These strong online sales compensated for most of the sales lost through its brick-and-mortar stores, of which more than 75% were shuttered at the peak of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

3 – K-beauty boost: S. Korea’s cosmetics exports soar to make it the world’s third-largest cosmetics exporter

South Korea’s cosmetics trade surplus exceeded U$6bn for the first time in 2020​, advancing its position on the global stage as the third-largest cosmetics exporter behind only France and the US.

According to data released by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), the country’s combined exports of cosmetics products increased 16.1% to KRW8.28tn (U$7.28bn) in 2020.

These figures now place the country ahead of other leading cosmetic exporters such as Germany, Japan, Italy and China.

China was the biggest importer of K-beauty last year at U$3.8bn, accounting for more than half of total exports.

4 – ‘A true pioneer' in digital: Unilever to acquire D2C brand Paula’s Choice

Personal care major Unilever will acquire US-headquartered direct-to-consumer (D2C) premium skin care brand Paula’s Choice​, bringing it under its growing prestige portfolio.

Unilever signed the agreement to acquire Paula’s Choice from global private equity firm TA Associates for an undisclosed sum; a deal expected to close in Q3 2021. The personal care major said Paula’s Choice was a “digital-led” skin care brand and “pioneer” of science-backed products and direct-to-consumer (D2C) e-commerce.

“Paula’s Choice offers powerful content and digital tools to demystify the science behind skin care, including an extensive ‘Ingredient Dictionary’ that breaks down the research behind nearly 4,000 ingredients, and ‘Expert Advice’ – a curated online hub of skin care and ingredient knowledge,”​ Unilever said.

5 – Buy and grow: Start-up Rainforest eyes opportunities in acquiring APAC e-commerce personal care brands

Singapore-based start-up Rainforest is looking to acquire online direct-to-consumer personal care brands​ from Asia Pacific in order to scale them up.

Established in January, Rainforest was launched by executives from some of South East Asia’s top start-ups, including Carousell, Airbnb, Fave and OVO.

The company describes itself as a ‘serial acquirer’, targeting e-commerce brands that have the potential to grow.

“It’s becoming increasingly easy to anyone to set up a brand. Anyone who has an idea of what’s interesting for the market can create it and entrepreneurs can start with a relatively small capital to create the brand they want,”​ said co-founder and CEO JJ Chai, who previously held roles at Carousell and Airbnb.

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