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Cofounder Alexia Inge Leaves Cult Beauty Months After THG Acquisition

Inge, Cult Beauty’s cofounder and co-CEO, said she’s excited to “watch the next chapter” of Cult from the sidelines.

LONDON — Alexia Inge is leaving Cult Beauty eight months after the company was sold to THG, WWD has learned.

The cofounder and co-chief executive officer of Cult, the online beauty and wellness retailer, said the sale to THG, formerly known as The Hut Group, was “a seminal milestone in the company’s history. I am excited to watch the next chapter for the business as it grows from strength to strength in its superb position as part of the THG Beauty portfolio.”

Inge described the 275 million pound deal as “recognition of Cult Beauty’s incomparable portfolio of emerging and independent brands, and loyal community of beauty enthusiasts.”

She added that Cult Beauty’s brand and mission “continues as a powerful stand-alone business, powered by THG Ingenuity, to spearhead further international expansion and technical innovation.”

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Inge said going forward she plans to spend more time with her family, and map out her next moves.

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“Growing and scaling a global business for 15 years has been exhilarating, deeply enriching and completely all-consuming. I’m at a juncture where I have the opportunity to prioritize other aspects of my life, a privilege I take with great pride and gratitude. I’m taking a well-earned year off to spend time with my young family, to recharge my creative spirit and let the ideas percolate for my next (ad)venture. Watch this space,” she said.

As reported, THG acquired Cult Beauty in August on a cash and debt-free basis from private shareholders, including Inge and majority investor Mark Quinn-Newall, who also cofounded Net-a-porter.

The deal pivoted on Cult Beauty’s close-knit partnerships with independent beauty brands that were not then available on THG’s e-commerce platform. Cult Beauty stocks more than 300 brands, including the likes of Drunk Elephant, Charlotte Tilbury and Huda Beauty — most of which had no other presence on THG beauty sites at the time.

Cult Beauty was a pioneer in the online beauty space, stocking niche brands and categories; showcasing brands with editorial flair, and steering well clear of discounting. The site spoke directly to the beauty-obsessed; reported regularly on seasonal and consumer trends, and remained sensitive and responsive to the needs of its audience.

Inge’s departure coincides with a difficult period for THG, which suffered an annus horribilis in 2021, due to a variety of factors. They included cofounder Matthew Moulding’s oversight of the company, the exact value and function of the various businesses under the THG umbrella and corporate governance.

THG has vowed to change and clarify the way in which the business is run, and is governed.

The company’s share price has fallen nearly 86 percent over the past year, with the shares worth 0.94 pounds. According to industry sources, THG has not been paying Cult Beauty’s vendors, although a spokesman for THG said that is not true.

Inge, who cofounded the company 14 years ago, said she was proud of transforming Cult Beauty into “the most trusted and loved beauty retailer in the world. I feel that we have not only surpassed [our] dreams, but also founded a significant community along the way, all on a total investment of 1.75 million pounds.”

She thanked the “superstars who have worked alongside me to build Cult Beauty into the special business it is today. I would like to thank our brands, all of whom quite literally represent the best in the industry. Thank you to our incredible community of customers from around the world for continuing to be our greatest supporters and source of inspiration.”

Earlier this year, Rachel Horsefield, CEO of THG Beauty, said the division was steaming ahead. She said that retail platforms Lookfantastic and Cult Beauty were growing, as were the THG-owned brands including Christophe Robin, Perricone MD, ESPA and Glossybox.

“We continue to accelerate our efforts in replicating this model of building brands, driving the discovery of new products and brands with our customers, and providing an online retail destination where customers can make their purchases with ease and convenience across the globe,” she told WWD in February.

“Online penetration is going to continue to increase, so we see great opportunity as a key digital player at the centre of the beauty industry, in helping support beauty brands make the transition from brick-and-mortar into online,” Horsefield added.