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Designer Parfums Acquires DDF Skincare

The deal marks its first foray into premium skin care.

LONDON — DDF Skincare seeks to reclaim its stature and distribution in prestige skin care, and has a new owner for the purpose.

Designer Parfums has acquired the dermatologist-created brand from Procter & Gamble Co.

The U.K.-based Designer Parfums said that it plans to work with Dr. Howard Sobel, a cosmetic dermatologist who founded DDF in 1991.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Designer Parfums said Sobel would play a “more instrumental role” in the marketing and development of present and future cosmeceutical products.

Dilesh Mehta, chief executive officer of Designer Parfums, noted DDF has a “very loyal customer base in the U.S. and beyond and we plan to bring these…products to new markets.”

Designer Parfums belongs to the Shaneel Enterprises Group, which owns or holds the licenses for brands including Ghost, Jean Patou, Scherrer, Aigner Parfums, Porsche Design and Worth Paris.

“I look forward to playing an active role in rebuilding this brand,” said Sobel, who noted that he expects to introduce new product innovations this fall. Now aligned with a smaller company, Sobel said he anticipates the nimbleness that the brand once enjoyed to return. “We will be able to move more quickly to provide innovation to the consumer….New ideas won’t stay on the table. They will get to the consumer.”

P&G acquired DDF in early 2007, at a time when dermatologist-created skin-care brands were creating a sensation in the prestige skin-care market. It purchased the brand’s parent company, HDS Cosmetics Lab Inc., from private equity firm North Castle Partners, which previously had bought the company in April 2004. At the time, industry sources estimated that DDF was generating $40 million in retail sales, with the bulk of the volume generated in the U.S.

Shortly after the acquisition, P&G laid out ambitious plans for DDF, complete with a glitzy consumer advertising campaign designed to showcase the end benefit of the featured product, namely Mesojection Healthy Cell Serum, over the standard bottle or jar shot. The ad launched in beauty books that fall and winter, but P&G’s efforts to support the brand have waned in the years since. The brand lost some distribution in recent years, and is now carried at Ulta.

The sale of DDF isn’t the first time P&G has reconsidered its interest in smaller brands. In a bid to build its prestige business, P&G had purchased a number of brands following the DDF acquisition, including Fekkai hair care in 2008, and both The Art of Shaving and Zirh men’s grooming brands in 2009. P&G quickly rethought the Zirh acquisition, and discontinued distribution of the men’s grooming line in 2011.