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Beauty Beat: KKR Mulls Boots Buy… NaturallyCurly.com Gets Cash Infusion… Revenues Soar at Ferragamo Parfums in 2006

Might Alliance Boots plc be part of a new outfit soon? The parent of health and beauty retailer Boots the Chemists received a "friendly approach" from Stefano Pessina, Alliance Boots' executive deputy chairman, and private equity concern Kohlberg...

LONDON — Might Alliance Boots plc be part of a new outfit soon?

The parent of health and beauty retailer Boots the Chemists received a “friendly approach” from Stefano Pessina, Alliance Boots’ executive deputy chairman, and private equity concern Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., according to a regulatory announcement released by KKR and Pessina on the London Stock Exchange on Friday.

Pessina already holds a 15 percent stake in the firm.

The “approach” weighed in at 10 pounds, or $19.33 at current exchange, per share.

Pessina and KKR said it was not certain an offer would be made and they noted the proposal was subject to due diligence being completed, “which we anticipate will take three weeks after full information is made available, and a recommendation from Alliance Boots’ board to Alliance Boots shareholders to accept the offer.”

“KKR’s and Stefano Pessina’s objective is to work closely with the existing executive management team to achieve the long-term vision of building a global leader in the health care services and beauty industries,” the statement continued.

Pessina was executive deputy chairman of Alliance UniChem, a pharmaceuticals wholesaler and pharmacy retailer, when it merged with Boots Group, a deal completed in August 2006.

Alliance Boots has a retail network of 3,000 doors, including 400 outlets outside the U.K. Boots the Chemists is a veritable institution in the U.K., where it sells a vast array of beauty products, electrical equipment, medicine and food. Its private label beauty portfolio includes the brands No. 7, 17 and Soltan.

Alliance Boots’ stock closed Friday up 14 percent at a unit price of 9.30 pounds, or $17.98.

NaturallyCurly.com Gets Cash Infusion

NEW YORK — NaturallyCurly.com, a Web site offering products, information and discussion for people with curly hair, closed on over half a million in angel financing last Tuesday.

The investment group of up to 10 individual investors includes a wide range of angels from various industries. One investor is Jimmy Treybig, founder of Tandem Computers.

According to Michelle Breyer, co-founder of NaturallyCurly.com, Treybig’s interest was piqued when he found out that a huge portion of the site was devoted to social networking. Treybig has been advising Breyer and Gretchen Heber, her business partner and co-founder, in the development of their site.

This story first appeared in the March 12, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Our site revolves around social networking. It’s girl talk, and our loyal members talk about everything. The community is not just about curly hair. They talk about ‘American Idol’ and losing weight, but it’s the curly hair that first got them to the site,” Breyer said.

The angel investment is the first for the eight-year-old firm, which has been trying to line up financing since August. The firm plans to use the funds to build its marketing operation. The company up to this point had been relying on a small family loan and a bank loan, disclosed Heber.

The Austin, Tex., firm was started in 1998 as the two women, friends and business reporters for an Austin newspaper, commiserated over what to do with their own curly hair in the intense humidity in Texas.

Overall revenue in 2006 was $700,000 and the two co-founders expect revenues of $1.5 million in 2007. The site is a re-seller of lines from other manufacturers, which allows it to offer different specialty lines in one place and for just one shipping charge.
— Vicki M. Young

Revenues Soar at Ferragamo Parfums in 2006

MILAN — Ferragamo Parfums has chalked up another successful year.

The fragrance company, which holds distribution licenses for Salvatore Ferragamo and Emanuel Ungaro perfumes, announced it closed last year with wholesale revenues of 52 million euros, or $65.3 million at average exchange, a 31 percent jump from 2005.

Last year’s sales volume increase marks four years of double-digit growth for the firm, which was brought back under the control of the Florence-based fashion house in 2001. Before then, the company was a joint venture shared with the Bulgari Group.

“It has been an exceptional year for the company and the fragrances, particularly in the Japanese market,” said Luciano Bertinelli, managing director of Ferragamo Parfums.

According to Yano Research, which keeps tabs on the Japanese perfumery market, Ferragamo’s perfume, Incanto Charms, was the most imported fragrance in the Japanese market last year.

Bertinelli said a lighter version of F by Ferragamo, the scent launched in September, was being formulated for the Asian market.

Other plans for the company this year include two fragrance launches, F by Ferragamo Pour Homme and a new Ungaro women’s scent. Both are expected to be on European shelves for fall.

Ferragamo Parfums also expects to build its travel retail business this year, Bertinelli noted. In addition to the contract Ferragamo Parfums signed last year to produce travel kits for Singapore Airlines, Bertinelli announced the company had inked a similar deal with Saudi Arabia Airlines. The one-year contract will see Ferragamo Parfums produce a travel kit for first-class female passengers aboard Saudi Arabian Airlines beginning in June.
— Stephanie Epiro