NEW YORK — Sundari, the Ayurvedic skin care brand, has been sold. But Christy Turlington, one of Sundari’s three founders that launched the company in 1999, is staying — at least for now.
This story first appeared in the February 27, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Mumbai, India-based Marico Industries Ltd., a $142 million conglomerate that chiefly produces oils for consumer and personal care products, purchased control of Sundari for an undisclosed sum in a deal that closed Tuesday night. Sources, however, speculated that the purchase price was more than double Sundari’s total sales, which were $1 million at wholesale last year.
With the buy, Marico takes a 70.5 percent equity stake in Sundari, leaving the remaining 29.5 percent share in the hands of the founders and their private backers. Elixir Advisors, which is run by former Credit Suisse First Boston investment banker Gail Zauder, represented Sundari during the three to four months of negotiations.
Ayla Hussain and Cavan Mahony, both part of the founding three, were previously co-chief executive officers of Shantih LLC, Sundari’s former holding company. Hussain will stay on as ceo of the new venture, called Sundari LLC, while Mahony has left the company.
Turlington said she will remain “an advisory board member” but has “relinquished all managerial responsibilities to Hussain and Marico.” She added, “This partnership will reinforce the brand’s Indian heritage and also provide infrastructure that will enable Sundari to continue to flourish in the marketplace. [It’s] a wonderful opportunity to do what we set out to do — combine tried and tested wisdom from the East with innovation and reinterpretation in the West.”
In addition to a capital infusion, the acquisition is seen as a way for Sundari to augment the range of raw materials it already sources from India for its treatment formulations, including essential oils and herbs. Meanwhile, the venture meets Marico’s goal of entering the U.S. market via a known, upscale brand. Prices in the Sundari assortment range from $22 to $90.
Sundari products are carried in 75 doors worldwide, including 52 in the U.S. Hussain sees the number of U.S. spa doors increasing by 75 within a year of the acquisition. At one time, expansion strategies included the opening of a freestanding spa in the U.S., but the purchase by Marico is seen as a way of getting such projects back on track.