An assortment of Aquage products.

Conair Corporation is looking to gain a larger piece of the professional market pie.

The professional division of Conair revealed today its acquisition of Aquage, a company that makes hair-styling and finishing products for the professional market. Ken Russo, senior vice president of Conair’s professional division, told WWD that Aquage’s focus on styling products fills a gap in the company’s current roster of professional brands, which includes hot-tool-line BabylissPro, Rusk, Satin Smooth and One N Only Argan Oil.

“It fits from a number of perspectives,” said Alan Stockman, vice president and general manager of Conair’s professional division. “It’s educationally focused and focused on the hairdresser and the salon professional — we [Conair] were founded in the professional business with a focus on the hairdresser and salon client.”

Conair has big international plans for Aquage. Two global rollouts are slated for next year — first to Canada, South and Central America, and then to Europe and Australia.

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Aside from the international expansion, distribution will remain unchanged. Seeing opportunity in the professional market, Stockman said he has no plans to change Aquage’s distribution within the U.S. — he intends to keep the brand only in salons. Currently, Aquage is in just under 15,000 salon doors. “We’re a salon company — that’s where our expertise in marketing is,” he said of the decision not to expand the brand to consumer retail. “We have the resources of a large corporation, but we’re focused on our salon business and putting the investment behind Aquage — we’re like Goliath but with the attitude of David with respect of going to market. It helps us be alert.” Stockman noted that brands that place emphasis on salons and hair stylists amid much of the change in the current professional market — consolidation and corporate acquisitions — have the most opportunity for growth.

With the acquisition, Conair is also looking to harness the talent of Luis Alvarez, the co-founder and vice president of creative at Aquage. At Conair, Alvarez will oversee creative and educational endeavors for all brands in the company’s professional division.

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