PARIS — With its eyes on acquisitions and partnerships, and thoughts of expanding its color cosmetics business, French hair care concern Eugene Perma thought it time to air its strategy.
So the company hosted its first meeting with financial analysts and the press this week. Didier Martin, the firm’s president and chief executive officer, said Tuesday during the conference at company headquarters here that the time was ripe for such a discussion.
“We believe we have things to say,” he explained, adding Eugene Perma now has its “own vision.”
The company, which is majority-owned by UBS Private Equity, posted 2003 sales of $202.5 million at current exchange rates, or 164 million euros, up 0.4 percent year-on-year. Eugene Perma counts among its brands Keranove, Pétrole Hahn and Eugene Color in mass market hair care; Artiste, Carmen and Cycle Vital in salon hair care, and Chen Yu, in cosmetics.
Of total sales, which have slightly more than doubled since 1996, 96 percent was generated by hair care products with 50 percent in mass and 46 percent in salons. Four percent of Eugene Perma’s sales last year stemmed from the company’s skin care business.
Martin said the firm’s 2003 growth outpaced the market’s and added Eugene Perma’s development has been “perfectly in line — even ahead — in refinancing debt.”
In 2003, the firm’s net debt amounted to $43.47 million, or 35.2 million euros. Its cash position including assets equaled $55.58 million, or 45 million euros, in the period.
Two percent of Eugene Perma’s sales go toward research and development, while 18 percent is earmarked for “pure advertising.”
The company bills itself as France’s third largest hair care company in salons. In the country’s mass market sector, Eugene Perma ranks third in colorants, with 11 percent market share; fourth in shampoos, with 5 percent, and first in hair lotions, with 68 percent, according to Martin, citing ACNielsen unit-based data from mid-December 2003.
Thirty-five percent of Eugene Perma’s business is rung up outside of France in 60 countries, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Singapore, Australia, the U.S. and Canada.
To help spur future business, Martin said the company would consider acquisitions or partnering with firms on projects that could broaden Eugene Perma’s horizons.
Most recently, it signed a long-term, two-pronged partnership deal with French hair care firm Jean-Claude Biguine. Under the agreement, whose financial terms were not disclosed, Eugene Perma supplies Biguine’s 350 hair salons with products. Eugene Perma is also the licensed manufacturer and distributor of a Jean-Claude Biguine-branded hair color collection, which is purportedly the first colorant line signed by a coiffeur in France’s mass market.
Eugene Perma is also studying the possibility of expanding its cosmetics business, according to Martin.
Other projects afoot for the firm include the inauguration of a new 177,800-square-foot factory this summer in Reims, France, which will centralize most of the Eugene Perma’s product production. The company spent $12.35 million, or 10 million euros, on the plant that will employ 135 and produce 50 million units yearly.
In 2004, Martin expects Eugene Perma to post a sales progression of 10.7 percent versus 2003. Also in the period, operating profits, which were $15.7 million, or 12.7 million euros last year, should spike 23.2 percent. For its part, EBITDA — $21 million, or 17 million euros in 2003 — is projected to rise 16.6 percent.
By 2006, Martin predicts Eugene Perma’s sales will come in just under $271.7 million, or 220 million euros. And five years from now, half of the company’s business should be generated outside of France.
Eugene Perma has 800 employees, commercial subsidiaries in France, Spain and Italy, plus an industrial subsidiary in France.
— Jennifer Weil