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Private equity firm Brynwood Partners VI LP, which agreed Wednesday to buy the U.S. and Puerto Rican rights to Alberto VO5, looks to inject the brand with some much-needed TLC.
Dario U. Margve, managing partner of Brynwood Partners, said his firm’s portfolio company, High Ridge Brands Co., under which VO5 will be managed, specializes in reinvigorating “corporate orphans.”
“What we like is a lot of latent consumer activity on a brand and VO5 is certainly one of those,” Margve said, explaining that Alberto-Culver Co., the owner’s of the brand prior to the company’s sale to Unilever in May, had most of its focus on star brands TRESemmé and Nexxus. “By putting a little tender loving care behind it to reconnect it with consumers, add product innovation with new fragrances and benefits, and then reengage with retail partners” VO5 can live to its full potential.
While the brand is estimated to generate $100 million in sales domestically, over the past several years retailers as a whole deemphasized value offerings in place of higher-margin products, ultimately affecting VO5’s distribution base. But Margve said that in recent talks with some of the larger retailers, “[stores] had such a backlash from consumers they added VO5 back into their assortments.” High Ridge Brands Co. is looking to build on that gain. Margve described VO5 as a brand that has been ranked as a top 15 hair care brand for years with more than 80 percent consumer awareness.
Terms of the deal, which also included the global rights to Rave, were not disclosed. The divestitures were mandated by the Justice Department as part of Unilever’s $3.7 billion acquisition of Alberto-Culver earlier in the year.
VO5 is Brynwood’s sole beauty brand; its other consumer brands include Zest soap, which it acquired in January from Procter & Gamble Co., and DeMet’s Candy Co. Margve said Zest is already experiencing gains from first-half advertising and marketing efforts.
“We ran through [freestanding inserts], couponing, new packaging and new products and reconnected with the trade,” Margve said. “We just started radio ads this week and consumers have really responded. We are going to take that template with VO5.”
Efforts will likely be seen as early as 2012.