Unilever has signed a deal to acquire skincare brand Paula’s Choice from TA, with industry sources reporting the price at around $2 billion.
WHO: Paula’s Choice is a pioneer of science-backed products and direct-to-consumer e-commerce.
Founded by Paula Begoun in 1995, the brand is famous for its industry-leading innovation, accessible jargon-free science, high-performing ingredients, and cruelty-free products.
Paula’s Choice offers powerful content and digital tools to demystify the science behind skincare, including an extensive “Ingredient Dictionary” that breaks down the research behind nearly 4,000 ingredients, and Expert Advice, a curated online hub of skincare and ingredient knowledge.
Begoun, who authored Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me and The Complete Beauty Bible, was an early advocate for ingredient transparency in beauty, and Paula’s Choice was one of the first skincare brands to create an ingredient dictionary. The brand is primarily sold direct-to-consumer online, but also sells with Nordstrom and recently launched with Sephora.
TA Associates is a leading global growth private equity firm. Focused on targeted sectors within five industries—technology, healthcare, financial services, consumer, and business services—the firm invests in profitable, growing companies with opportunities for sustained growth, and has invested in more than 535 companies around the world. Investing as either a majority or minority investor, TA employs a long-term approach, utilizing its strategic resources to help management teams build lasting value in high-quality growth companies.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products, with sales in over 190 countries and products used by 2.5 billion people every day. The company has 149,000 employees and generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Over half of its footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has around 400 brands found in homes all over the world.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Vasiliki Petrou, Unilever EVP and CEO Prestige, said, “We are thrilled that Paula’s Choice will join our Unilever Prestige family. Paula’s Choice is a true pioneer in the digital space for beauty and has created a mission-based brand rooted in truth and transparency. We can’t wait to introduce the brand and its iconic products to an even bigger audience.”
Paula Begoun, founder, said, “I am so excited that Unilever and Paula’s Choice are joining forces, and I want to thank Vasiliki and the Unilever team for believing in us, our mission and our values. With Unilever we can build on our work and vision spanning 26 years of creating brilliant products, and by giving people the self-confidence that comes from knowing they are taking the best care of their skin possible.”
Sunny Jain, Unilever Beauty & Personal Care President, said, “Developing Unilever’s portfolio in the high growth premium skin care segment is one of our strategic priorities and I’m excited that Paula’s Choice is joining us on this journey.”
Jeffrey Barber, Managing Director at TA, said “We are proud to have played a part in Paula’s Choice’s growth story where it has become a leading direct-to-consumer global skin care brand. We are excited to see what the company can accomplish in partnership with Unilever.”
“Similar to our experience with TA over the past five years, we are confident that Unilever will be an ideal growth partner,” says Tara Poseley, CEO of Paula’s Choice. “Like Paula’s Choice, Unilever is a product- and R&D-driven company, with values centred on empowerment, customer education, inclusion and sustainability. I am thrilled to be part of this next phase of our journey, following the growth we achieved under TA’s ownership and guidance.”
- TA Associates sold Paula's Choice to Unilever for a reported $2 billion, but the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- The business is expected to do more than $300 million in net sales for 2021 according to WWD.
- PE Hub sources said the company generates EBITDA close to $100 million, and confirmed that both private equity and strategics were part of the sale process.
- The private equity firm sold the digitally native brand to Unilever for $2 billion, as reported by WWD.
- Paula’s Choice will become part of Unilever Prestige, run by Vasiliki Petrou. Unilever also owns Tatcha, Murad, Dermalogica, Kate Somerville, and Ren.
- TA Associates invested in the brand alongside Bertram Capital in 2016. Revenues were said to be around $70 million at the time and the business was valued at $275 million.
- Industry sources said the brand hired three banks for the deal, with Financo Raymond James as lead advisor, Piper Sandler, and Morgan Stanley. Goodwin Procter is serving as legal counsel to TA.
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