Priori is a science-driven, antiaging skin-care line founded by Joe Lewis and Joe DiNardo in 2005, and distributed primarily in the professional channel. The brand makes 21 products priced between $34 and $110. During Revlon’s acquisition of Elizabeth Arden, the owner of Priori since 2014, Lewis bought the brand from Arden, and is now selling it to SkinSciPac. Terms of the SkinSciPac acquisition were not disclosed.
Dan Ginsberg, the former chief executive officer of Dermalogica, is chairman of SkinSciPac, and David Stern, former president of MD Formulations and vice president of international at Bare Escentuals will be ceo of the new business. Jaime Hutter, former chief financial officer of Bare Escentuals; Dawn Turner, former west coast regional manager for Priori, and Regis Haberkorn, former Priori chief operating officer and former president of Babo Botanicals, will also be partners in SkinSciPac. All parties are investing in the business.
The goal of the new holding company is to build “a portfolio of brands with professional credibility that are science driven, science based and provide efficacy for the consumer,” said Ginsberg. To do that, SkinSciPac plans to make further acquisitions, investments and launch its own brands to build a portfolio of businesses that can share certain back-end functions. Ginsberg and Stern said they didn’t have specifics in mind in terms of the number of brands or size of companies for the portfolio, but that they are looking for companies with sizable growth potential. “We’re looking at the professional skin-care channel as a bar of almost credibility and efficacy which we have to meet with all of our brands,” Stern said, noting that the company will invest in other categories beyond skin.
Over at Priori, which industry sources estimated had $7 million in revenues for 2016, growth is the plan. Right now, the business is sold through medi-spas, dermatologists’ offices and other professional channels through about 15 distributors, with very limited retail distribution, and a focus on international through Australia, the U.K. and Scandinavian countries. Industry sources expect the business could grow to $15 million in sales for 2017.
“This is a brand that hasn’t had as much tender loving care in the last couple of years as it could,” said Ginsberg. “Operating properly and being attentive to the brand and its current customer base…[of] professional customers, and our distributors, will help us…but we now will choose to be more assertive in expanding distribution.” That includes adding more retail distribution as well as direct-to-consumer, he added.
Under new ownership, Priori will revise its packaging and pump out new products, including a sun-protection product in the next few months, according to Stern. The packaging design is also being revamped. “We’re mindful of not over packaging the product and letting the true essence of the product, meaning the science-based delivery, be the primary focus of the branding and re-branding and the packaging,” said Ginsberg.
For SkinSciPac, Priori is likely to be the first of a series of transactions. Stern noted the business is constantly evaluating a pipeline of potential deals.
The formation of SkinSciPac comes during a busy time for beauty M&A, and one where deals are expected to shift from makeup (a focus for the past few years) to other categories, including skin and hair care. Former Revlon chief executive officer Alan Ennis partnered with private equity firm Warburg Pincus in order to form Glansaol, also a portfolio of beauty companies (now Laura Geller, Julep and Clark’s Botanicals).
Before that, Unilever acquired hair-care brand Living Proof; Estée Lauder picked up Too Faced, Becca Cosmetics and By Kilian; L’Oréal bought IT Cosmetics, CeraVe, AcneFree and Ambi, and Johnson & Johnson acquired OGX.