Francesco Clark, the founder of natural skin-care brand Clark’s Botanicals, has bought his company back.
Clark purchased the business from AS Beauty, which acquired it as part of Glansaol’s bankruptcy proceedings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but industry sources estimate that the brand is on track to do between $5 million and $6 million in retail sales for 2019.
Clark created Clark’s Botanicals after a spinal-cord injury from a swimming accident in 2002 led to chronic breakouts. To fix them, he started creating his own skin-care products in conjunction with his father (a doctor) — those products cleared up his skin and led to the formation of Clark’s Botanicals.
Clark sold his brand to Warburg Pincus-backed Glansaol in 2016, helping, alongside other acquisitions Laura Geller and Julep, to establish Warburg and Glansaol’s foothold in beauty. The plan was to create synergies and shared resources, but that never happened, and Glansaol filed for bankruptcy protection in December with plans to sell all three brands to AS Beauty. The deal, for $18 million, was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Feb. 1, and Clark closed on his acquisition of Clark’s Botanicals on Feb. 6.
“We had to negotiate to get the brand back, but it’s the smallest of the three, so the amount of time we would need from shared resources from them, you start to think, ‘maybe it’s better if they do it on their own, and we grow Geller and Julep,'” Clark said.
Glansaol wound up struggling in part, because of declines from Laura Geller — its largest brand — sources have said.
But Clark said Clark’s Botanicals was actually growing, and profitable, despite the larger company’s bankruptcy. The brand recently launched on Nordstrom.com with Space NK, and does business on Amazon, QVC, LovelySkin.com and Dermstore.com. Its web site is also posting growth, and online, direct sales are expected to double this year, he said.
“What we’ve been able to do with Glansaol and Warburg Pincus is look and see what we could work with, and we tested the waters in the right kind of way, and that’s why we ended up with positive [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization],” Clark said. “I was still pinching myself when NPG put us as one of the top-growing natural skin-care brands.”
Going forward, Clark expects the five-person team’s focus to continue to be on the products, which he plans to promote with simple messaging on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and on creating direct relationships with customers.
“That’s not to say we we’re not going to have partners…it’s about homing in on what’s working, how to maximize it and keeping true to the message,” Clark said.
Even with the Glansaol experience under his belt, asked if he’d take another outside investment, Clark was open to it. “I’m keeping it as my own [and] self-funding right now,” he said. “There is always space for conversation with strategic partners.”
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