“We have to gain our own capabilities, we have to study more, and that’s exactly why we have decided to look into an e-commerce company Violet Grey,” Shiseido president and chief executive officer Masahiko Uotani said in a presentation about Shiseido’s three-year corporate strategy in early March. “We decided to take a minority stake in this e-commerce company Violet Grey so we would be able to gain these e-commerce capabilities on our own.”
A spokesman for Shiseido Americas issued a follow-up statement to WWD: “Shiseido Americas has taken a limited, minority interest in Violet Grey Inc., an online luxury beauty retailer with whom several of our brands do business. Violet Grey’s unique approach to prestige beauty is well-aligned with Shiseido’s e-commerce strategy. This investment offers us the opportunity to grow our existing presence on VG’s online platform, and to gain from Violet Grey’s unique insights into the luxury beauty market.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but industry sources indicated the investment was between $5 million and $10 million, and that Violet Grey does around $5 million in sales.
Violet Grey, which was founded by Cassandra Grey, sells an edited assortment of products from brands including 111 Skin, Aquis, Byredo, Foreo, Hourglass, La Prairie, Tom Ford and others. The brands are sold online and through Violet Grey’s storefront in Los Angeles. Grey did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the Shiseido investment.
Industry sources indicated in 2017 that Violet Grey was looking for additional funding. That news came around the same time as the business was said to have inked a deal to sell beauty products on Amazon for a commission of between 20 and 30 percent.
Violet Grey is just one of many deals Shiseido has done recently. The business has made a handful of technology acquisitions, including MatchCo and Giaran, as well as a second-skin technology from Olivo Laboratories. Shiseido has also divested operations — including ReVive, which it sold to Tengram Capital, and Zotos, which it sold to Henkel.