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Clarisonic to Shrink Workforce and Outsource Manufacturing

The brand stressed the production shift won't diminish its commitment to innovation.

Clarisonic is eliminating 120 employees as it moves to external manufacturing.

The layoffs and manufacturing transition, which are expected to be completed by the end of next year, are taking place as the facial-cleansing device specialist is plagued with difficulties. In the first half of this year, parent company L’Oréal reported Clarisonic’s sales failed to meet expectations, and it recorded a goodwill impairment for the brand of 234 million euros or $261 million at the current exchange rate.

The cutbacks are concentrated to a production facility in Redmond, Wash., and will be completed within the next 15 months. Clarisonic continues to house its global headquarters in the Seattle-area city and maintain a fulfillment center in Kent, Wash. A spokesperson for the brand disclosed a few hundred employees presently work at Clarisonic in the Seattle region, but wouldn’t offer a specific count.

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In a statement, the brand said, “Affected employees have already been made aware of this news and will receive financial support and job placement resources, as well as the opportunity to apply for other positions within L’Oréal if in good standing. Clarisonic is very grateful for the contributions of these employees and is committed to supporting these colleagues throughout the transition period.” L’Oréal disclosed the employee reductions in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification to Washington’s Employment Security Department.

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Clarisonic sought to provide assurance that outsourcing its manufacturing won’t deter advancements in the brand’s product pipeline. “Product innovation remains a priority for Clarisonic, with an ongoing investment in our internal research and innovation capabilities based at its global headquarters in Redmond,” the brand said, adding, “These [production] changes will further Clarisonic’s ability to deliver innovative beauty devices to customers around the world.”

The production outsourcing appears to represent a shift in L’Oréal’s strategy since it bought Clarisonic’s owner Pacific Bioscience Laboratories Inc. in 2011 to have the device subsidiary structured largely as it was before it became part of the beauty conglomerate. Clarisonic had honed an expertise in making its devices, a product L’Oréal wasn’t as accustomed to producing, marketing and distributing upon taking over the brand as it was standard topical skin-care, liquid hair-care and color cosmetics items.

In an interview with WWD last year about the decision to sell Pacific Bioscience to L’Oréal, Clarisonic cofounder and general manager Robb Akridge, said, “What we loved about L’Oréal when we were evaluating the acquisition is that they wanted us to be our own entity and they were interested in keeping our company intact. This is a very unique approach in an industry where companies often acquire brands just to take them over and produce them in their own way. Clarisonic kept our own research clinic, engineers, operations and more.”

The leadership of Clarisonic, including Akridge, U.S. general manager Stuart Leitch and president Elisabeth Araujo, will be challenged to sustain the quality of Clarisonic’s merchandise as it changes production facilities and put out products that move the needle in a retail landscape that’s become crowded with facial-cleansing machines since the brand’s founding in 2014. Clinique, Foreo, Mary Kay and Olay are just a few of the brands that have entered the cleansing device category that Clarisonic once mostly had to itself.

The competition may have dinged Clarisonic’s dominance, but it hasn’t toppled it from its device throne. A spokesperson for the brand, citing Kline & Co., said, “We continue to be a strategic long-term asset for L’Oréal and the [number-one] beauty device company in the world.” Clarisonic has sold in excess of 15 million devices worldwide.