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Tengram Invests in Laura Geller Cosmetics

The Connecticut-based private equity firm has acquired a stake in the professional makeup artist's color cosmetics brand.

Tengram Capital Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity firm, has acquired a stake in professional makeup artist Laura Geller’s color cosmetics brand.

Financial details were not disclosed. Laura Geller Beauty, which Geller founded 20 years ago, generates $75 million in retail sales annually, according to estimates by industry sources.

The New York-based brand has been sold on the QVC direct-selling TV network for 15 years. In addition to also being retailed on qvc.com, the brand’s brick-and-mortar distribution consists of 600 Ulta doors. Plans call for adding another 600 doors throughout the specialty store chain in the spring. In an interview, Geller said Ulta plans to expand the brand’s merchandising space from its present three-foot gondola to a six-foot size.

The company is known for pioneering its “baked” makeup and being among the first to market “primer” category of products, under the Spackle brand name.

Geller said Tengram’s participation will allow the company to invest in marketing and advertising for the first time. “Marketing will enable the brand to have a bigger presence,” she said, noting that it also will allow her “to look at other retail opportunities,” as long as present relationships are not harmed.

She noted that the company also will be looking at expanding its distribution footprint overseas. The brand is now sold outside the U.S. only through QVC in the U.K., Italy and Germany. Geller also acknowledged that eventually the company will deal with the question of going into department stores. “We are going to get to it,” she said.

Richard Gersten, a partner of TCP, praised Ulta as “a nice launch pad” and platform for the brand. But the goal is to grow the company. “We are going to find ways of growing it beyond the U.S., beyond QVC and beyond the product category,” he said, adding that Geller will be kept within the prestige sphere.