In Brands, Finance, Insight

The Laundress’ founders Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd put their fashion know-how to good use 15 years ago, creating a lifestyle brand around fashionable laundry detergent that heavily leverages a beauty sensibility. Unilever has acquired the eco-friendly laundry-care brand, and while terms of the deal were not disclosed, according to Fast Company the company was sold for a reported $100 million. Unlike most of the indie acquisitions over the past couple of years, The Laundress self-funded the business.

The Laundress assortment consists of more than 85 different products that go beyond laundry to other home-cleaning products like bleach, surface cleaner, and dish soap. In addition to The Laundress’ three boutiques in New York, Tokyo, and Seoul, the brand is also sold through more than 1,500 wholesale accounts. Unlike traditional laundry brands, The Laundress’ distribution footprint is more in line with a luxury beauty brand sitting comfortably on the shelves of high-end fashion boutiques and department stores including Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, and Bandier.

“We’re seeing over and over again that young consumers care a great deal about the everyday products they are surrounding themselves with,” says Romitha Mally, a vice chair at UBS, who is familiar with the industry having overseen several deals with Unilever. “The Laundress was ahead of this trend, but now we’re seeing the rest of the industry catch up.”

According to WWD, Unilever’s home-care sales in the last quarter were up 3 percent, to 2.5 billion euros, and competitor Procter & Gamble also posted gains in fabric care, with 2 percent growth for the most recent quarter, to $5.56 billion. The category increase is being attributed to the growth of premium products, innovation, and emerging markets.

Kees Kruythoff, President of Unilever’s Home Care business, said in a statement, “With its line of beautifully crafted eco-friendly products and fast-growing following in the US and China, particularly among millennials, The Laundress is a strong addition to our portfolio of leading Home Care brands. Its distribution network across specialty retailers, direct-to-consumer and e-commerce, combined with Unilever’s global reach creates an ideal launch pad towards giving more people around the world the distinct ‘The Laundress’ experience.”

Photo: via The Laundress

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