Sephora confirms Feelunique buy, no purchase price disclosed
LVMH’s premium beauty operation Sephora has confirmed the widely expected acquisition of Feelunique. It has signed an agreement with Palamon Capital Partners and other shareholders to take over the UK-based online beauty retailer.
The likelihood of the deal had been flagged at the weekend by The Sunday Times newspaper. It’s not complete yet as it needs the nod from various competition authorities and completion is expected at some point in H2.
No purchase price has been disclosed, but earlier reports had suggested the business was valued at around £132 million (almost €153 million).
Sephora, which had pulled out of the UK some years ago, said it’s a key step in establishing its presence in the country, citing Britain’s status as one of the top 10 global markets for prestige beauty and its embrace of digital. Britain is one of the world’s leading markets for e-commerce with high digital adoption, something that has accelerated since the pandemic began. The purchase gives Sephora instant scale in the UK without needing to open stores.
Feelunique was founded in 2005 and now has 1.3 million active customers, selecting 35,000+ beauty and fragrance products from over 800 brands. Since Palamon bought it, Feelunique has quadrupled in size as the business has improved its UK distribution set-up while also expanding abroad and investing heavily in technology.
Amazon executive Sarah Miles was named CEO in 2019 to lead the next phase of growth and the current management team will stay in place post-acquisition.
Miles said: “We are delighted to join forces with Sephora, whose prestige positioning is the perfect fit for our prestige brand offering. With the support of Palamon and its co-investors we have created a renowned online player in UK beauty at the forefront of a significant market opportunity. With the new strategic backing and resources of a global retail group we are truly excited about the prospects for Feelunique to accelerate its growth.”
Louis Elson, Managing Partner at Palamon, added: “In Feelunique we have built on the great work of the founders to create one of the market leaders in online beauty retail at a time when the importance of the digital commerce channel to global distributors has never been greater. We are therefore delighted with this strategic sale to Sephora. Our thanks go to Sarah and her team who worked so hard to put the company on a profitable and rapid growth trajectory ahead of the restrictive lockdowns and then so successfully responded to capture the surge in demand for its unique online offering.”
Beauty is a key growth area in Britain and particularly premium and luxury beauty. Both Harrods and Next have been opening higher-end beauty stores in recent periods while online specialists such as The Hut Group have gone from strength to strength.
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