Aesop appeals to major groups

Eva Morletto

By Eva Morletto31 janvier 2023

LVMH, Shiseido or L'Oréal? One of the three groups is reportedly interested in a stake in the Australian cosmetics brand Aesop, currently owned by the Brazilian group Natura Cosmeticos.

The Aesop brand was born in Melbourne in 1987 (Shutterstock)

Which of the three giants will succeed in acquiring a stake in Aesop, the coveted Australian skincare brand, especially among millennials? Since Bloomberg broke the news on Tuesday 31 January, the hypotheses have become clearer.

Aesop is now part of Brazilian cosmetics group Natura Cosmeticos, which bought 65% of the brand in 2012 for just over €62 million.  Currently, Aesop founder Dennis Paphitis owns 25% of the shares, with the remaining 10% held by other minor investors. In recent years, the brand, famous for its natural fragrances in amber glass bottles with minimalist packaging, has been the financial engine of Natura Cosmeticos. The Brazilian group also owns the Avon and The Body Shop brands, and their performance is not all equal.  As of 30 June 2022, The Body Shop was losing -25% of its overall turnover in the second quarter of the year, while Aesop was up +5.7%.

These contrasting performances can be seen in the group's balance sheet, which at the end of September 2022 showed a loss of -9% of its turnover compared to 2021, at 4.5 billion euros.  The holding company's strategy today is to increase the value of Aesop. The idea of a stock market listing having failed because it was considered too risky by the parent company's management, the desire to bring powerful investors into Aesop's capital persists.

If the operation is confirmed, Aesop's valuation could rise to two billion dollars (about 1.8 billion euros). This would be a remarkable success for this small label born in 1987 in Melbourne, Australia, on the initiative of colourist Dennis Paphitis, who is passionate about essential oils. Today, the company has 275 single-brand shops worldwide and around 100 corners in various prestigious department stores.

Bloomberg reported that Bank of America and Morgan Stanley would be involved in the process of opening the capital of Natura Cosmeticos. The agency also said that deliberations are currently underway and that for the time being no concrete information on this possible operation has been released.

A pioneer in the world of sustainable cosmetics, Natura was the first listed group to receive B-Corp certification for its commitment to the environment in December 2014.

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