Unilever is bulking up in hair with the acquisition of Sundial Brands.
Sundial owns hair-care and skin-care brands SheaMoisture, Nubian Heritage, Madam C.J. Walker and Nyakio, and will operate as a stand-alone unit within Unilever. The company’s brands are known for being inclusive and ingredient-focused. SheaMoisture, for example, which has been selling well in a mass-market landscape that is generally slow (in the U.S.), makes hair, bath, skin care and cosmetics products that are paraben, phthalate, petroleum, paraffin, mineral oil, DEA, formaldehyde and propylene-free, as well a cruelty free.
Sundial’s founder, Richelieu Dennis, will continue to head the business as chief executive officer and executive chairman. The business is expected to do $240 million in sales for 2017. As part of the deal, Unilever and Sundial are putting $50 million into the New Voices Fund, which is aimed at supporting women of color entrepreneurs. The companies intend to accept other investments and scale the fund to $100 million.
“I’ve always wanted Sundial Brands to be an inspiration to other minority-owned companies of how a business against all odds can achieve excellence, have significant social impact in our communities and be successful on a world stage,” said Dennis. “I am excited Sundial and Unilever have created this partnership, rooted in a purpose-driven ethos, that represents an incredible opportunity to take our community commerce economic empowerment and impact model to another level.”
“The Sundial team has built differentiated and on-trend premium brands serving multicultural and millennial consumers that enhance our existing portfolio,” said Kees Kruythoff, president, Unilever North America. “Sundial is an important addition to our U.S. portfolio of purpose-driven companies, which includes Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation.”
“We are excited to partner with Richelieu and his team to enable Sundial to bring its unique product offerings and community impact to more people around the world,” said Alan Jope, president, Unilever Personal Care. “We look forward to continuing to grow the business and make an even bigger impact on society through Sundial’s community programs.”
Separately from the Sundial deal, Unilever has appointed Esi Eggleston Bracey, formerly of P&G, as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Unilever North America Personal Care effective Jan. 1. Bracey will work with Dennis to grow Sundial.
“I’ve enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Esi and look forward to working with her to continue to change the game in beauty, personal care and community building,” Dennis said.
For Unilever, the deal comes as the company has been building out its beauty business. Unilever’s recent acquisitions include Hourglass Cosmetics, Carver Korea and hair-care brand Living Proof. The business is also said to be incubating brands, and launched one — ApotheCare — at CVS in November. Industry sources have said Unilever will continue to focus on beauty to try to avoid takeover offers like the one it got from food giant Kraft Heinz earlier in 2017.