“We love businesses that are able to establish long-term and recurring relationships with their customers.”
This story first appeared in the July 23, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
That was one reason why Encore Consumer Capital elected to make a substantial investment in the indie beauty brand Butter London, according to Kevin Murphy, a managing director at Encore.
The other reason is that Butter London is a “superstrong brand” backed by an equally “strong team built for a substantially larger business,” he said.
Encore, which focuses on consumer products, isn’t new to the beauty category. The company has a stake in natural skin-care firm MyChelle Dermaceuticals, and recently sold its position in prestige color cosmetics brand Tarte to Kosé.
Neither Encore nor Butter London are disclosing the terms of their agreement or the investment amount.
Butter London, founded in 2005 by Sasha Muir, is positioned as an entry brand to the prestige space. Average price points are $15 for nail colors and $20 for items in its color cosmetics line, according to Leslie Freytag, Butter London’s president and chief executive officer.
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Freytag said the company has been looking for a financial partner to help with capitalization of the business so the company can grow. It has 80 employees.
Founded as a nail lacquer brand, with influences from rock ’n’ roll, Great Britain — where Muir is from — and fashion, the company last year launched its color cosmetics line.
According to Freytag, the investment from Encore will help the beauty firm increase its product development so it can build out a full range of color cosmetics, increase its sales and marketing initiatives and add to its field sales team.
“Part of the investment will help us to really expand our Web presence on our Web site and in social media,” the ceo said, noting that the additional resources will help it strengthen the relationships with its current consumers and “also to make new friends.”
Although the company sells globally on e-tail platforms in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Taiwan and Australia, it has primarily a wholesale-focused business model. It has a presence in specialty stores such as Ulta beauty and select Nordstrom and Dillard’s locations, and one freestanding nail salon location at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The company is based in Seattle.
Freytag isn’t ruling out the possibility of additional freestanding sites — “We are looking at all opportunities,” she said — although the priority seems to be entrenching itself further in the color cosmetics category.
According to Encore’s Murphy, quality opportunities in the beauty space have been “tough to come by.” He said his firm has been aware of Butter London since around 2006 or 2007, but only in the last six months was there a sense that an investment opportunity might be possible.
While holding periods for its investments average five years, Murphy said that isn’t a fixed rule and there is some flexibility to “entertain an exit well before that or after that [time period].”