The Hut Group is said to be close to a deal to buy makeup artistry brand Illamasqua.
Illamasqua was founded in 2008 by Julian Kynaston, and is known for professional-level makeup and nail polish products that encourage self-expression. The brand is distributed in 15 doors with Selfridges and Debenhams, through Net-a-porter, LookFantastic.com, its own web site and other locations. Agent Provocateur cofounder Joe Corre took a 10 percent stake in the business in 2010.
For the Hut Group, which has openly said it wants to expand in beauty, buying Illamasqua would allow it to do just that. The Hut Group owns LookFantastic, one of Illamasqua’s distribution channels, which also sells brands like MAC, Bobbi Brown and Lancôme. The company acquired Berlin-based beauty box business Glossybox in August as a way to build an internal marketing operation that could potentially serve owned beauty brands.
“This serves as a really strategic middle pillar,” said Paul Gedman, chief executive officer of The Hut Group’s prestige division when the Glossybox deal was unveiled. “What Glossybox does, apart from being a great customer acquisition platform, is also gives us the opportunity to become a marketing agency for brands.
“This allows us to take the relationships we have with brands to another level,” Gedman continued. “Rather than just retail sales globally, we’re going to have a marketing agency globally for them as well.…The other side is it gives us a dedicated and focused team in our digital and marketing team…to really focus on bringing in that beauty box consumer.”
Gedman contended that having a marketing arm would help Glossybox on its mission to acquire beauty brands. The business has been said to be actively looking at beauty companies to buy and then plug into its online sales platforms. In 2016, the Hut Group was said to be a bidder in the auction for Paula’s Choice, which ultimately did a deal with private equity firm TA Associates. The Hut Group already owns Espa, Mio Skin Care and other beauty brands.
“Beauty brands are a real focus for us because we have the platform to reach consumers globally, we now have the platform to market globally, so that is our third [piece] of our beauty strategy, is to acquire more beauty brands,” Gedman said in August. “It’s all about how these things come together to become number one. We’re relentlessly focused on becoming number one in beauty, globally.”