Economy

Brazilian cosmetics giant acquires Melbourne skincare business Aesop for $68 million

Cara Waters /

After being up for sale for a year, Australian skincare company Aesop has been sold to Brazil’s Natura Cosméticos for $68 million.

 

Aesop – lauded for its great-smelling products, minimalist stores, and gift packs emblazoned with pithy quotes – was established in Melbourne in 1987.

Aesop’s skin, hair and body products are now sold online and at more than 60 signature stores internationally across major cities, including Paris, Tokyo and New York, as well as Aesop counters in many department stores.

A spokesperson for Aesop confirmed the $68 million sale price to SmartCompany, a price significantly below early reports of a potential price tag of $150 million for the company, which has $45 million in annual sales.

Dennis Paphitis, founder and creative consultant at Aesop, said in a statement that Aesop and Natura shared a philosophy emphasising a holistic approach to beauty and the importance of a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, and intellectual stimulation.

“I am happy and proud to be part of this impressive company and to have worked with an inspiring group of outstanding colleagues across our subsidiaries,” Paphitis said.

As Aesop will continue to operate independently, management will remain based in Melbourne, headed by present chief executive Michael O’Keeffe and Paphitis will maintain his role as creative consultant.

The deal will give Natura a 65% stake in Aesop, with the local arm of US-based Harbert Private Equity selling its 26% and Paphitis selling half his holding and retaining about 25% of Aesop, according to The Australian Financial Review.

O’Keeffe and other management will retain about a 10% stake.

“My equity stake in the company has been reduced, though am I delighted to remain a significant shareholder and to continue as creative consultant,” said Paphitis.

He said Natura and Aesop’s shared philosophy would enable Natura to provide strong support for Aesop’s ongoing international expansion in terms of both product and sustainability and would generate “a rich exchange” of ideas, knowledge and expertise.

“O’Keeffe and his diligent management team have dynamic plans moving forth and I support these company plans and strategy,” Paphitis said.

“There will be great things ahead for Aesop.”

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is the former editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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