By Jennifer Weil
with contributions from Allison Collins
 on January 9, 2020
A Birchbox assortment.

PARIS — Birchbox France has been acquired by its cofounders Quentin Reygrobellet and Martin Balas, and Otium Capital from Birchbox U.S.

Terms of the deal, made to accelerate the beauty subscription box business, were not disclosed.

Birchbox has been present in France since 2011. The following year, JolieBox, a domestic subscription beauty box business, was merged with Birchbox in the country.

Birchbox France will now run as an independent entity from Birchbox U.S. The French operation counts 60 employees and registered 20 percent sales growth in 2019 versus 2018. Its business model mixes subscriptions, representing 60 percent of its sales; e-commerce, with 40 percent, and a marketing agency for brands.

“Since 2011, we have been building a unique ecosystem in France, which relies on consumer knowledge from data and the direct relationship with the consumer, which brands need more than ever,” said Reygrobellet, Birchbox France’s chief executive officer, who had been a cofounder of JolieBox, in a statement. He called Otium’s investment an “asset.”

Balas serves as Birchbox France’s chief operating officer.

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It has 220,000 subscribers in the country and last year sent out 3 million beauty boxes to 1.2 million clients. Birchbox France works with 300 brands.

Its operating independently will allow the group to speed development, according to Birchbox France, which specified that would be done based on three axes: personalization via data, prescription via content and its portfolio’s offer.

Reygrobellet said Birchbox France is the group that’s had the strongest acceleration in the market among its competitors.

Otium Capital is the family office of French entrepreneur Pierre-Edouard Stérin. The firm’s other beauty-related investments have been in companies such as Même and Laboté.

Over in the U.S., ceo and Birchbox founder Katia Beauchamp plans to funnel “significant” proceeds from the sale of the French business into growth, she said, including growth of Birchbox-owned brands.

The company raised the price of its subscription boxes in 2019 for the first time, and has seen a shift in its subscriber base as a result, Beauchamp said. “Candidly, we lost some subscribers, but have definitely been growing revenue,” she said. “We are seeing massive changes in revenue for subscriptions, massive changes in margin for our subscription service…[and] higher retention than ever, and that allows us to focus on delivering a more quality product versus being on a treadmill of volume.”

An ongoing partnership with Walgreens also continues to go well, Beauchamp said. Curated Birchbox displays were in 500 Walgreens stores over the holiday season that resulted in a “big jump in volume,” she said.

More on WWD.com:

For the First Time in Nine Years, Birchbox Changes Subscription Prices

Birchbox Plans Small-Format ‘Expressions’ in 500 Walgreens Stores

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