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Urban Decay’s New Owners Position for Growth Abroad

Urban Decay has brought on board a chief financial officer and geared up for aggressive international expansion.

With the encouragement of its new ownership, Urban Decay has brought on board a chief financial officer, geared up for aggressive international expansion and positioned itself to build its complexion products business.

Larry Thompson, formerly cfo and executive vice president of Pert Plus owner Innovative Brands and controller at The Dial Corp., has joined the Newport Beach, Calif.-based cosmetics brand in the cfo role. The hire is the first major executive move since private equity firm Castanea Partners purchased a controlling stake in Urban Decay, previously owned by the duty free operator Falic Group. The purchase took place earlier this year for an undisclosed amount.

“Our business has grown to the level where we need someone with that extra level of experience,” said Wende Zomnir, Urban Decay’s creative director and co-founder. Speaking of Castanea and Thompson, Urban Decay general manager Tim Warner, added, “The reason they bought our business is they loved our business model, so they want to support it.”

Urban Decay is carried in 952 doors globally, and Sephora, Ulta and Macy’s are its largest retailers in the U.S. Domestically, Warner projected around 40 percent growth this year and said the brand is notching growth of around “18 percent [on a] comp basis.” He forecast international growth to be 25 to 35 percent this year.

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Warner estimated international revenues constitute about 20 percent of Urban Decay’s business, largely coming from the U.K. However, he foresees Urban Decay’s global business contributing some 50 percent of the total in 2013 or 2014. The brand is launching next year at Sephora in Spain, Italy, China and Southeast Asian countries.

Both at home and abroad, Urban Decay, known for its vibrant shadows and pencils in the brand-leading eye category, has been trying to establish its franchise of complexion and primer products, which Warner said constitute “in excess of 20 percent of our business.” Next year, Urban Decay will introduce a powder called Razor Sharp described by Zomnir as “super high tech” and tinted moisturizer to beef up its complexion range.

“We are seeing at the full-service [Macy’s] counters how much we can do with complexion. It is about educating consumers that we are not an eye-focused line,” said Zomnir. “It doesn’t mean we are abandoning eye. Hopefully, with the strategy of balancing out the mix, we are going to continue to see growth across the categories.”