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L’Oréal Acquires Atelier Cologne

The purchase signals the ever-gaining importance of niche perfumery in today’s beauty marketplace that skews toward premiumization.

PARIS — L’Oréal has signed an agreement to acquire Atelier Cologne, signaling the ever-gaining importance of niche perfumery in today’s beauty marketplace skewing toward premiumization.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but industry sources estimate the brand’s wholesale revenues run between $55 million and $60 million annually.

Atelier Cologne was launched in 2009 by Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, who were inspired by eau de cologne. They elevated the classic fragrance form; whereas such scents traditionally are made of less than 5 percent essential oils, their creations – dubbed Colognes Absolues — contain 15 percent to 20 percent. The duo believes in the power of storytelling, the importance of explaining to customers the ideas and reasons behind their products, as well.

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Atelier Cologne’s line has subsequently been expanded to include fragranced soaps, shower gels, body lotions and candles for the home.

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“Alternative perfumery is currently a high-growth segment,” stated Nicolas Hieronimus, president of L’Oréal Selective Divisions, which until now has opted to grow the company’s niche perfumery business organically.

The executive said Atelier Cologne “will perfectly compliment the L’Oréal Luxe brand’s portfolio, which includes exclusive perfume collections from its biggest brands: Armani Privé, Le Vestiaire des Parfums by Yves Saint Laurent, Maison Lancôme, Replica by Maison Margiela, as well as the Ralph Lauren Collection.”

“We are delighted to benefit from the group’s retail and digital expertise and L’Oréal Luxe’s olfactory expertise to make the brand even more successful,” Ganter and Cervasel said jointly in a statement.

Atelier Cologne products are sold in more than 800 sales points in 40 countries and on e-commerce sites. The brand has six freestanding stores, of which three are in France, two in the U.S. and one in Hong Kong.

Prior to Atelier Cologne, L’Oréal has not owned a fragrance label with its own retail doors.

The company’s acquisition is the latest move in the race among multinationals to snap up hot niche beauty labels as the trend for premium products keeps rising. Luxury and super-luxury brands also tend to offer solid growth rates, and they present an alternative for some big beauty companies wanting to move from celebrity or fashion brands.

The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. has been a frontrunner in the charge for niche labels. In February it acquired By Kilian, while in 2014 it scooped up Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, Rodin Olio Lusso and Le Labo.

In early January of this year, Puig acquired Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur.

While niche fragrance brands keep cropping up, there are not many today with enough critical mass to put them on the radar of big companies. Some privately held fragrance brands in Europe currently ripe for the picking — though none with a visible for-sale sign at present — include Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Creed, Memo and Juliette Has a Gun.