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Unilever to Acquire K18 Haircare

Unilever beat out a host of bidders, including rival consumer goods conglomerates and private equity firms.
Unilever to acquire premium haircare brand K18.
Unilever to acquire premium haircare brand K18. (Courtesy)

Unilever has signed an agreement to acquire K18, the biotechnology haircare company founded by Suveen Sahib and Britta Cox in 2020. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2024.

K18′s proprietary K18Peptide ingredient is a key value proposition, which it claims is capable of reversing hair damage. With an offering of six products, the brand’s hero is the Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask, though new additions such as the Molecular Hair Repair Oil are also proving popular with consumers.

Sources close to the company say retail sales of $300 million are expected for this year, increasing to sales of over $410 million in 2024.

K18 has been a top M&A target, and Unilever is thought to have beaten out the likes of L’Oréal and Blackstone. Its closest peer, Olaplex, which is another single molecule company that arguably created the bond building category, was valued at $13.6 billion at its 2021 IPO. It’s struggled as a public company, with the company adjusting its fiscal year outlook in August as net sales slumped by 48 percent compared to the same period last year.

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Vasiliki Petrou, Unilever Prestige’s chief executive, said the acquisition “complements our fast-growing portfolio of premium, culturally-relevant consumer brands,” adding that Unilever Prestige are looking to grow its portfolio in “high growth premium spaces.”

Since launching in 2014, Unilever Prestige, helmed by Petrou, has made a number of high-profile acquisitions. K18 joins Living Proof, which it acquired in 2016. Others in the portfolio include the skincare lines Tatcha, Murad and Dermalogica. Parent company Unilever owns mass brands such as Dove, Sunsilk and Vaseline.

This week, parent company Unilever spun off Elida Beauty, which had a portfolio of more than 20 beauty and personal care brands including Q-Tips, Brut, Caress, Timotei and Tigi to private equity.

Stay tuned to BoF for updates on this developing story.

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