Astral Brands has acquired nail and makeup brand Butter London.
Butter London, backed by Encore Consumer Capital since 2014, is a prestige beauty brand well-known for its nail polish collection. The business also sells makeup, including lip and eye products, as well as blush and bronzer. Butter’s products are sold online through its own site, on Amazon Luxury, and at Ulta Beauty, Kohl’s and Nordstrom.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but industry sources said the brand has about $15 million in sales.
Under Astral, Butter plans to expand its makeup operation, which is focused on eye and lip products. While the brand is best known for its nail polish line, it branched into makeup around three years ago. “We’ve evolved the brand to be more of a color cosmetics line, still having nail as an anchor, because that’s what we’re known for,” said Sarina Godin, president of Butter London.
The Butter team will remain in its Seattle headquarters, but will have access to things like digital and financial resources that come with being part of a larger business, Godin noted. The brand has hit a rough patch in recent years, industry sources indicated.
“We have struggled,” Godin admitted, with “lack of funding to do some of the things the brand needs to do to be competitive, and with the ever-changing beauty industry and trying to keep up, we’ve had some challenges.”
Now, she expects the brand to focus on making investments in things like establishing a field team “to support sell-through strategy,” building out the brand’s digital platform and marketing, she said. Butter, founded in 2005, was initially based on nail polishes that didn’t contain certain ingredients, a premise it has carried over into its makeup products. But that message hasn’t necessarily been clear, Godin noted, and going forward Butter intends to speak more openly about its better-for-you ingredient stance.
For Astral, that ingredient positioning is one of the things that attracted it to Butter, according to Robert Cohen, chairman and chief executive officer of Astral. The business also owns Aloette, a brand focused around Aloe as a hero ingredient, Cosmedix, a clean skin-care brand, and Pür Cosmetics, a mineral makeup business. Industry sources said that with the acquisition of Butter, Astral is likely to approach $100 million in sales for 2018.
According to Cohen, Astral is interested in “clean formulations and performance-based products.”
The business is planning for Butter to leverage its infrastructure, Cohen noted. “We’ve worked for a decade to build infrastructure to reduce and leverage our cost structure so we can put the money back into the marketing, the product, the salespeople — the consumer-facing part of the business,” he said.
In terms of product for Butter, Cohen noted that the plan is to introduce stockkeeping units that are more “retention oriented.”
“The color category has a lot of trend, a lot of fashion, a lot of impulse, so we’re going to try to build a number of additional sku’s that have a deeper repeat customer orientation,” he noted.
Threadstone advised Butter London on the deal.