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Lyn Kirby’s Plan for Beauty Brands

The former chief executive officer of Ulta Beauty teamed up with a private equity fund to buy a majority stake in the regional retailer.

Lyn Kirby, the architect of Ulta Beauty’s hybrid-beauty model, has a new target: the regional retailer Beauty Brands.

The former president and chief executive officer of Ulta teamed with a private equity firm to buy a majority stake in Beauty Brands, a 55-store chain based in Kansas City, Mo.

The store’s founder, Bob Bernstein, retains a minority stake. At the close of the deal on Dec. 12, Kirby assumed the title of chairman and ceo of Beauty Brands.

Kirby said the private equity firm is remaining silent for the time being, but the goal is to grow Beauty Brands in the U.S. from coast to coast.

“There is room for another national brand,” Kirby told WWD via phone, while scouting out potential real estate for the retailer. “[Beauty Brands] is at an interesting stage of growth that’s very similar to when I first joined Ulta.”

At present, Beauty Brands stores range from 6,000 to 8,000 square feet, with units located mostly in the middle part of the country. The retailer’s heritage is in salon products and services, but in recent years it has worked to add more cosmetics and skin-care lines through an in-store boutique called Studio. The area houses brands such as Tarte, Smashbox, Too Faced, Peter Thomas Roth, Dermalogica and Philosophy.

While at Ulta, Kirby transformed the retailer from a mass-market emporium to a national chain that housed salon services and both mass and prestige brands under one roof. If her legacy at Ulta gives an inkling of what her vision may be for Beauty Brands, she’ll likely continue to woo luxury brands to the format.

Kirby left Ulta in September 2010,and her noncompete expired in March. “I’m excited to be back in this space,” she said. “I’ve never been more passionate than I am coming back in.”

Kirby has recruited a few familiar faces. Her team also includes Beauty Brands president Rich Bos, who was formerly Ulta’s vice president of marketing.

Kirby has no plans to relocate, but will commute to Kansas City and work out of satellite offices in New York and Florida.