Following a spate of acquisitions over the last two years in the beauty arena, Canadian full-service beauty supplier KDC/One is looking to develop its presence outside of North America with “aggressive growth plans” for the Asia region. Work is also underway to offer a wider range of more sustainable packaging solutions.
Some six out of seven acquisitions made by KDC/One since mid 2019 have been in the beauty and personal care space — a clear marker of the Canadian group’s ambitions for the segment. The company announced the purchase of HCT Group in December 2019, less than six months after it snapped up French cosmetics supplier Alkos Group, UK formulation company Swallowfield and California-based formulation specialist Benchmark Cosmetics Laboratories. The strategy behind its purchase of Asian formulator Paristy the following year, meanwhile, was to provide a “base for expansion into the high-growth China beauty market.” With these additions to KDC/One’s portfolio, some 62% percent of its business is now in beauty (color cosmetics, skincare, personal care), with the remainder in the home-care sector. “Following each of our acquisitions, our integration philosophy is to keep the ‘special sauce’ that the business was built on. Naturally we look into areas like governance, finance and treasury, but when it comes to product development and R&D, we give free rein,” explains Steve Levine, Senior VP Global Color Cosmetics at KDC/One.
Regarding the group’s industrial footprint in Europe and the UK, a new soap manufacturing line was launched at Swallowfield’s UK Wellington site, while “major investments” are being made in Europe in the area of skincare production capacity. “In Europe, we aim to embark on technology transfers, especially in skincare, from our US-based R&D sites,” notes the company. Two of the five sites owned by Alkos and Swallowfield respectively in Europe have been closed in a move to “squeeze efficiencies”, explains the company.
In Asia, KDC/One has extensively recapitalized HCT’s metal/zamak capability business, and combined two factories into a single site, specialized in zamak injection and electroplating.
The Americas comprise 75% of the group’s business today, while EMEA accounts for 18%. In Asia, where the supplier says it is under-represented — the region makes up just 7% of sales — the company has “aggressive growth plans”.
Regarding HCT’s packaging portfolio, new categories have been added to its stock offer: haircare, a dropper collection and beauty devices; the latter is said to be in strong demand as a result of changing consumer habits due to the pandemic.
In keeping with market trends, the supplier is looking to make its packaging catalog increasingly sustainable. This includes packs made of up to 100% PCR materials or bio-sourced materials; packs with removable applicators, such as tubes whose metal applicator tips can be removed and Eco Brush, where the tuft and mono-material handle can be separated. Indeed, mono-material options are another focus: new launches include a 100% PET makeup line; an airless PP pack with a metal-free pump and Flex Dropper, a 100% PP pack for oils and serums. Also in this space is a soon-to-launch 100% aluminum line including a palette, compact and refillable jars (with plastic insert).
As to the impact of the health crisis on business, the group had to pivot a portion of its manufacturing capacity to soaps and sanitizer. “But on the bright said, categories that were “depressed” as a result of the pandemic, such as color cosmetics, are seeing renewed activity, not just for complexion and eye products, but also lips,” remarks Levine.