NEW YORK — The Charles Worthington London North American hair care business has been purchased from U.K.-based consumer products group PZ Cussons by Beautology LLC, a newly formed holding company, for an undisclosed amount. Led by Stuart Straus, a beauty veteran who has overseen hair and skin care brands at Unilever and Kao Brands, Chicago-based Beautology Brands Co. aims to revive the different lines under the Charles Worthington business, including Results, Big and Smart Fixx. Ownership of the business, which generated $11 million in U.S. sales for 2005, took effect June 1.
Straus is very familiar with the Charles Worthington business here — he most recently oversaw it as the former president of PZ Cussons Americas Inc. Trying to manage the line with a parent company based oversees, he said, was not in the best interest of the brand. So he formed an investment group — with him as the lead investor — and five months ago proposed taking over the business from PZ Cussons.
A deal was soon made.
Beautology, whose first job is the revival of the Charles Worthington brand, also will be poised for future acquisitions, Straus said.
Sales of Charles Worthington London have dwindled over the years, from an all-time high of $21 million in 2001 to half of that in 2004, when PZ Cussons purchased the brand from hair stylist and salon owner Charles Worthington. A combination of distribution challenges, as well as the rising number of celebrity hair care lines, took its toll on the brand over the years. Straus also attributed problems to the location of the brand’s overseas parent.
“You have to have laser focus on the U.S. Beauty means something different to a U.K. woman than to a U.S. woman.” Since the acquisition in 2004, under Straus’ direction, the brand has gained distribution from 6,000 to 18,000 doors. Today, sales are approximately $13.5 million.
According to Straus, PZ Cussons will continue to supply Beautology with research and development of Charles Worthington products launched in the U.K. Charles Worthington, along with Tim Rogers, the brand’s U.S.-based editorial stylist, will help to identify future hair trends and build the group a pipeline of brands. Also getting the company back on track is the launch of Dream Hair, which will be tested in full, nationwide distribution in Rite Aid and 145 Ulta stores this summer. Both retailers will sell seven of Dream’s 11 items, at a suggested retail price of $8.99. Dream Hair is formulated with silk and pearl extracts to add shine, moisture and volume to hair. Packaging takes on a vintage air and uses lilac hues, while the shampoo’s fragrance uses tuberose, sandalwood and pear scents. Dream first launched in department stores in the Nineties, but the brand soon went in the direction of the mass market. Results, the brand’s core hair care line, and Big, a volume line, also will be repackaged and reformulated for next year. A $5 million print ad campaign will help support the 2007 launches.
Straus expects his new company to regain its once-charmed sales success as soon as year-end 2007, when he anticipates Beautology to post $21 million in annual sales.