Belfast Telegraph

Unilever in £2.3bn shampoo firm buy

By Graeme Evans

Consumer goods giant Unilever has unveiled a deal worth £2.3bn.

Unilever, which already owns brands such as Dove, Sunsilk, Pond's and Vaseline, said the proposed acquisition of Alberto Culver would make it the world's leading company in hair conditioning and second largest in shampoo.

Products in the Alberto Culver portfolio include VO5, Simple, TRESemme, Nexxus and St Ives.

The business began life as a one-product company in 1955 and its founder Leonard Lavin continues to be a director, while his family are also key shareholders in the Illinois-based firm.

The business, which has operations in nine countries and employs around 2,700 people, generated sales of $1.6bn US (£1bn) in the year to the end of June.

Unilever chief executive Paul Polman said the acquisition added some "powerful" new brands to the company's portfolio.

He added that the addition of VO5, TRESemme and Simple would enable its UK business to cover more price points across a number of categories.

Mr Polman said the personal care category represented 20% of turnover 10 years ago but had grown to reach more than 30% with strong positions in many emerging markets.

He said: "Bolt-on acquisitions such as Alberto Culver supplement organic growth and add powerful new brands to our portfolio."

The acquisition received support in the City as Unilever shares rose by more than 2% yesterday.

Meanwhile, PZ Cussons, the owner of soap brands Imperial Leather and Carex, has bought tanning lotion company St Tropez from private equity group LDC for £62.5m.

St Tropez sells some 30 self-tanning products mainly in the UK and Australia and posted pre-tax profits of £7.4m on revenues of £20.7m for the year to the end of July.

A PZ Cussons spokesman said the company hopes to exploit the St Tropez distribution network - which includes Boots, Superdrug, Debenhams, Sainsbury's and John Lewis - to sell its Sanctuary range.

The company spokesman said: "Both brands are predominantly beauty and wellbeing brands for women. There's an opportunity to grow them together. We can take the Sanctuary products into the same distribution chain as St Tropez. There are also opportunities to take both the brands together overseas."

PZ Cussons posted operating profits of £46.2m in Europe for the year to May 31, up from £40.9m, on revenues of £280.8m.

Graham Jones, analyst at Panmure Gordon, said the move was an "excellent acquisition done at an attractive price".