By  on April 1, 2009

Procter & Gamble Co. has sold off its ethnic brands to a husband-and-wife team who plan to return them to their former glory.

Johnson Products Company, the maker of African-American hair care products, which P&G acquired five years ago with its purchase of Wella, has been purchased by RCJP AcquisitionInc., a newly formed company based in Los Angeles funded by private equity firms Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners LP and St. Cloud Capital LLC.

Johnson’s brands, consisting of Ultra Sheen and Gentle Treatment, will be overseen by Eric Brown and Renee Cottrell-Brown, ethnic beauty industry veterans. Brown will serve as RCJP’s chief executive officer and Cottrell-Brown as executive vice president.

Most recently, Brown served as president of Pro-Line International, which is owned by Alberto-Culver Co. Cottrell-Brown, whose father founded Pro-Line and subsequently sold it to Alberto-Culver in 2000, has for the past three years operated a marketing consulting firm, Streetwise Marketing Solutions, based in Arlington, Tex.

She previously had a 25-year career with Pro-Line Corp. and Pro-Line International, most recently as global vice president of retail marketing.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Johnson Products has annual sales exceeding $23 million in the U.S. and makes about 30 hair care products. Under ownership of P&G, Johnson went from making more than 100 products down to 30, said Cottrell-Brown.

“[Growth] wasn’t their focus,” Cottrell-Brown said of P&G’s ownership of Johnson. Her next order of business is to assess the brand and expand it in 2010. “We want to bring about new products and innovation. We will probably just get acclimated and make sure we’re meeting our customers’ needs for now. Then we’ll get consumer research on what they want and then we’ll launch new products next year, go out and meet retailers. Get back on board with everyone.”

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