Fusion To Acquire Five Brands

Market sources estimated the deal to be worth between $25 million and $30 million.

As part of an aggressive strategy to grow the company, beauty marketer Fusion Brands Inc. has agreed to acquire five brands created by Robin Coe-Hutshing, founder of Studio BeautyMix at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, Calif.

This story first appeared in the July 30, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The deal calls for the Mémoire Liquide Bespoke Collection, Mémoire Liquide Reserve Edition and Nudité Intense fragrance brands to become part of Fusion’s Luxury Fragrance Division and the Ultraflesh color cosmetics and Soft Corp body care brands to be part of the firm’s Beauty Division.

Although neither of the parties would discuss the value of the transaction, market sources estimated the deal to be worth between $25 million and $30 million.

“We’re looking at company expansion through the acquisition of new brands,” said Caroline Pieper-Vogt, president and chief executive officer of Fusion Brands Inc., and “they were looking for a new partner.”

As part of the union, Coe-Hutshing and Nicole Ostoya, ceo of Studio USA LLC, have formed Gold Grenade LLC, through which they will consult as part of a Fusion “think tank” with creative input on the five brands.

“From a strategic standpoint, it makes sense because we just started the Luxury Fragrance Division,” said Pieper-Vogt, referring to the creation of the business unit during the spring. “These are truly luxury fragrance brands,” she added, contending they have an “artisanal” sensibility. “They fit squarely in our portfolio.”

“We’re a beauty [brand] incubation company,” said Ostoya, discussing the decision to approach Fusion, “but we have no real field staff; we didn’t have the people in place.”

“We felt we weren’t reaching as many people as we could,” added Coe-Hutshing. When asked about growth plans for the brands, she responded, “We see everything expanding.”

Of Mémoire Liquide, Coe-Hutshing said, “We intend to roll out to key retail environments worldwide, as a vantage point for showcasing the [five-item] Reserve collection, which is the ready-to-wear version of the bespoke [business].”

Reserve Edition, a 2009 entry, comprises the Vacances Liquide, Encens Liquide, Fleur Liquide, Amour Liquide and Soliel Liquide fragrances, and is meant for selective distribution, including at retailers like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom.

The Mémoire Liquide Bespoke Collection, which was launched in 2007, includes some 150 proprietary fragrances and Coe-Hutshing called it “an offshoot of the bespoke [business] that was the basis of the retail store for 25 years.” It is carried at Studio at Fred Segal, Bloomingdale’s 59th Street and Henri Bendel.

Mémoire Liquide scents are also carried at Mecca Cosmetica in Australia and Murale in Canada.

There is a wider distribution strategy for Nudité, which was launched at Nordstrom in April, the executives said, adding they are looking at Europe for distribution of the fragrance brands.

The idea, according to Pieper-Vogt, is to “grow the brands in the U.S. and internationally. We see lots of potential in international for these brands. Now, they’re just getting their toes wet.”

The deal “gives us the opportunity to balance our international distribution with Mémoire Liquide in Central Europe and [Fusion’s] Clean [fragrances] in Asia, Sweden and the U.S.,” said Roslyn Griner, Fusion’s senior vice president of marketing and product development.

Ultraflesh is to launch at Sephora in October (see sidebar, this page) and Soft Corp is bound for an Aug. 2 HSN debut.

Coe-Hutshing’ Burn candle brand was recently acquired by Los Angeles-based home fragrance company DL & Co. and Coe-Hutshing will no longer be involved with Burn. The recent moves involving Coe-Hutshing’s brands may raise questions about the future direction of Studio BeautyMix, but Coe-Hutshing declined to discuss immediate plans for the retail concept.