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Nicola Mira
Jan 31, 2023
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LVMH, L'Oréal, Shiseido said to be vying to buy stake in Aesop

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Jan 31, 2023

Speculation is rife regarding the fate of Aesop, the seemingly highly sought-after premium beauty brand owned by Brazilian group Natura & Co. According to Bloomberg, French groups LVMH and L'Oréal, and Japanese group Shiseido are in contention to acquire a stake in Aesop.

The Aesop store in rue Montmartre, Paris - DR

The bids that LVMH, L'Oréal and Shiseido are reportedly considering to acquire a shareholding in Aesop would value the brand, founded in Australia in 1987, at $2 billion (approximately €1.8 billion) for a 100% stake, said Bloomberg, citing sources close to the matter. Contacted by FashionNetwork.com, the LVMH group declined to comment on the news, and L’Oréal has not yet responded to FashionNetwork.com’s enquiry.
However, the rumoured negotiations may not result in firm bids. Negotiations are taking place three months after Natura & Co., in a note addressed to the market and to its shareholders, indicated it was considering a possible IPO for Aesop in the USA, or alternatively a spin-off for the beauty brand.

Until autumn 2022, Natura & Co. had been enjoying vigorous growth owing to its acquisition policy (it bought Avon in 2020, after buying The Body Shop from L’Oréal in 2017), but its progress has been severely affected by rising inflation. In the first nine months of fiscal 2022, closed on September 30, 2022, Natura & Co. recorded a revenue of €4.5 billion, equivalent to a 9% downturn. In the same period, Aesop was the only brand growing within the group, with sales of €319 million, up 22.5%.

A directional brand coveted by beauty giants

Aesop is a B Corp-certified brand of natural cosmetics. Its products are packaged in stylish understated bottles, showcased in stores whose interiors are uniquely edgy. Aesop currently operates 376 retail outlets, 275 of them monobrand stores and 101 department store concessions. Among the players looking to buy a stake in the brand are some of the world’s beauty heavyweights.

L’Oréal, whose luxury division includes brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Atelier Cologne, Carita and Viktor & Rolf, was indicated as the potential buyer of premium make-up and fragrance brand Byredo in May 2022. Eventually, it was Catalan group Puig that acquired Byredo from British fund Manzanita Capital, also the owner of Diptyque and Malin+Goetz.
The LVMH group owns 15 perfume and cosmetics brands, among them Christian Dior, Parfums Givenchy, Guerlain, Fresh and Make Up For Ever. In 2022, the group's beauty brands generated a revenue of €7.72 billion. The French luxury giant also owns selective perfumery chain Sephora
Finally, there is Shiseido, keen to extend its reach outside its domestic market and China. The group owns the Shiseido, Clé de Peau and Drunk Elephant brands, and in the first nine months of fiscal 2022 its sales grew 4.7% (but were down 4.1% at constant exchange rates) to JPY762.7 billion (€5.2 billion). In 2022, Shiseido launched skincare brand Ulé in France, and recently acquired Gallinée, a skincare brand founded in 2016 by French businesswoman Marie Drago, and remains very active in the acquisitions arena.

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