The Hut Group Acquires Cult Beauty for 275 Million Pounds

LONDON — The Hut Group keeps growing its brand portfolio and has just added U.K.-based online beauty retailer Cult Beauty.

The group bought the digital platform for 275 million pounds from private shareholders including co-chief executive officer Alexia Inge and majority investor Mark Quinn-Newall, who had also co-founded Net-a-porter.

The appeal was Cult Beauty’s close-knit partnerships with independent beauty labels which are not currently available on its e-commerce platform. It stocks over 300 brands, including the likes of Drunk Elephant, Charlotte Tilbury, and Huda Beauty — two-thirds of which have no other presence on THG existing beauty sites.

“Cult Beauty is frequently the partner of choice for emerging indie brands due to its personalized, content-led approach and enthusiastic consumer base who are continually seeking new, innovative solutions to complement their beauty routines,” said Matthew Moulding, executive chairman and chief executive officer of THG, also pointing to the retailer’s network of 1.7 million engaged beauty shoppers and 1.6 million Instagram followers. 

The idea is to keep Cult Beauty’s separate branding and identity intact, and use the THG infrastructure to spearhead international expansion — as less than 50 percent of its sales are from overseas.

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There’s also an opportunity to offer Cult Beauty’s brand partners access to THG’s “beauty box subscription business, digital marketing services, and manufacturing know-how.”

Within six months of the acquisition, THG will launch Cult Beauty on its THG Ingenuity technology platform, which offers trading, merchandising, marketing, real-time data, 14 THG fulfillment centers globally, seven content studios delivering digital brand building and content creation, in-house product development and manufacturing.

The company predicts that following the transition, it can help increase Cult Beauty sales from 60 million pounds to 140 million pounds within 18 to 24 months.

The deal also expands the group’s retailing scope: It can now serve Asia, Europe, and the U.K. through both Cult Beauty and its existing site, Lookfantastic, according to Moulding. It also plans to focus on North America through Lookfantastic and professional skincare retailer Dermstore. 

THG, which filed for an IPO last summer, has been consistently growing its stable of beauty brands and retailers with other recent acquisitions including Dermstore and skincare brand Perricone MD.

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