Sector Deals of the Week—Unilever Enters Prestige Color Cosmetics with Acquisition of Hourglass Cosmetics

Unilever announced the acquisition of luxury, high-performance color cosmetics brand, Hourglass Cosmetics. Founded in 2004 by Carisa Janes, the innovative brand combines active ingredients with color cosmetics to produce ultra-high-quality makeup formulations. The brand launched in Barney’s during its first year of operation and has successfully gained distribution in high-end retailers, including NET-A-PORTER, Sephora, Space NK and Harrod’s. As a result of its growing distribution and expanding social media presence, Hourglass has secured a loyal consumer following driving the brand’s double-digit growth.

The acquisition represents Unilever’s entry into the color cosmetics category and further expansion into the prestige category. Hourglass joins Ren Clean Skincare, Murad, Dermalogica, Kate Somerville and Living Proof as part of Unilever’s prestige division, which launched in 2015. According to Women’s Wear Daily, Hourglass generated net sales of approximately $70 million and sold for an estimated purchase price of $250 million to $300 million, implying a multiple of 3.5x to 4.3x revenue.

The color cosmetics category and indie brands, in particular, are experiencing tremendous growth as a result of social media expansion and increased channel diversification. Hourglass joins an impressive list of recently acquired indie color cosmetics brands, including Too Faced Cosmetics, BECCA Cosmetics, It Cosmetics and Laura Mercier, among others, reaffirming industry predictions that the color boom is not over. The acquisition is expected to close in Q3’17.