Unilever said to be in talks to buy Space NK
Space NK is on the block with the US-based Fisher family (the founders of Gap) looking to sell the operation, according to reports. And rumours are that Unilever is a potential buyer.
The Fishers own the upscale beauty chain through Manzanita Capital, which was set up by Bill Fisher, son of Gap founder Don Fisher.
The London Evening Standard Reported that Manzanita is in advanced talks to sell space NK and that Goldman Sachs is advising the beauty chain on the deal.
Space NK been one of the big influencer stories of modern beauty retailing having been a pioneer in the minimalist/wellness approach to the category and in 'clean beauty'. Beginning as a single store in London's Covent Garden, it now has over 60 locations in Britain and 29 in North America.
But while it's undeniably made an impression, profits still aren't huge with pre-tax profit of only £3.2 million on sales of £96.4 million in the year to March 25.
But, as the current rumoured purchase of First Aid Beauty (FAB) by Unilever rival P&G proves, the potential for niche brands once they come under the control of a deep-pocketed global giant with a sympathetic approach is massive.
FAB’s founder has been quoted commenting on just how much growth potential she expects under the P&G umbrella and it's likely that space NK management feels the same about Unilever taking it over.
However, its management doesn't include its founder. Nicky Kinnaird stepped down from her role at the chain in 2014 having sold a 90% stake to Manzanita in 2007.
Unilever has made a number of important strategic acquisitions in recent periods and seems to be looking to move into the higher-end from its roots in the mass-market. However, the global giant hasn't yet commented on any interest in space NK.
The highly acquisitive Hut Group has also been rumoured to be interested in the chain, but has denied it has ever considered buying it.
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