LONDON — Molton Brown is planning a move to the U.S. in a deal that would value the British beauty and well-being brand at $119 million in holdings.
Molton Brown, which offers bath, body, hair, color cosmetics, skin care and men’s and baby collections will have 20 stand-alone stores in the U.K. by the end of its financial year in March and now wants to break into the U.S. beauty market.
“The States is the obvious big market,” said Michael Warshaw, chairman of Molton Brown, in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “We’ve got a great management team in place there and we really feel that now is the right time to start the international expansion.”
Bridgepoint Capital, the private equity firm that first invested in Molton Brown with a minority stake of $1.18 million nine years ago, has injected $44 million for a 60 percent holding. The balance is held by Molton Brown’s management, which has reinvested more than $24 million in the new entity that has been created as part of this fund-raising. All dollar figures are converted from the pound at current exchange.
Molton Brown, which had a turnover last year in excess of $42 million, is currently in talks to open its first stand-alone flagship with spa in the Flatiron district of New York.
“We didn’t want to do the traditional Madison Avenue opening,” said Warshaw. “I think the area has a lot of potential and suits us as a brand, more importantly, we feel it’s also right for our customers.”
Warshaw said the company is close to signing the deal, and is confident the flagship and spa will open by November this year. If the formula works, more stores will follow, with Boston set to be the second location in the U.S.
The American market isn’t completely new to the brand. The company already has enjoyed an 18-year stint in the U.S. at Barney’s in New York and also is stocked at Neiman Marcus and Blue Mercury.
Michael Warshaw will remain chairman with Charles Denton and William Wellesley as joint managing directors. As part of the deal, Bridgepoint is expected to appoint one of its partners to the board.Molton Brown, now in its 30th year, also is looking into the possibilities of further growth in continental Europe.
In other news, Molton Brown will open six stores in the U.K. between now and December, including a site in Belfast. The company also has joined forces with a major property group to launch Molton Brown’s first Paris store sometime next year.
Molton Brown also will roll out more than 30 new products this year, in addition to phase II of the skin care line, which launched here in May.
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