Unilever Makes Bigger Bet on Prestige With Ren Skincare Deal

Move Comes As Rival P&G Sheds Beauty Brands, May Divest More

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Unilever has agreed to acquire Ren Skincare for an undisclosed amount, the company said, in a sign the global giant is ramping up in prestige beauty even as speculation rises that rival Procter & Gamble Co. may scale back there.

Unilever said it expects the deal for the 15-year-old skincare brand, founded in the U.K. by Anthony Buck and Robert Calcraft, to close by May after regulatory reviews.

In a statement, Vasiliki Petrou, Unilever's senior VP-prestige brands, said Ren has "an incredibly loyal following, with a unique proposition that gives it potential for even further growth." Ren is already in 50 countries, but Mr. Petrou said the naturals category where it competes is one of the fastest growing in global skincare.

The move comes at P&G is divesting, discontinuing or merging 100 brands globally representing 14% of its sales. Smaller prestige fragrance licenses, such as Avril Lavigne's signature scent, have already been discontinued.

Some analysts believe that as part of the process P&G will exit all or most of its salon haircare and prestige fragrance and beauty businesses to focus on mass channels where it has more experience competing.

Lucky Generals, London, handles advertising for Ren, and the company has no plans to review the account, a spokeswoman said in an email.

Ren had global sales of more than $110 million last year, Euromonitor estimates.

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