L’Oréal India boss reveals his appetite for local acquisitions

By Richard Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

L’Oréal’s India operation looking to acquire skincare and makeup businesses there. ©GettyImages
L’Oréal’s India operation looking to acquire skincare and makeup businesses there. ©GettyImages
India’s cosmetics industry has been buzzing since the press revealed that head of L’Oréal’s local operation was looking to acquire skincare and makeup businesses there.

Managing director Amit Jain said he is looking for brands that meet the specific needs of Indian consumers.

What’s of great interest to us is skin and make-up. These are two areas that are still nascent in India, where we believe there are a lot of opportunities​," Jain said in an interview.

We are looking for good strong formulations for Indian consumers and high-quality manufacturing. For us, it is also about getting in products that are close to the Indian consumers both from a brand and product type.​”

Beauty boom in India

India’s beauty and personal care market was worth INR971bn (US$14bn) last year. Of this, cosmetics accounted for an estimated INR80bn, while the skincare market was valued at INR12.5bn crore, according to firm Euromonitor. Cosmetics are expected to grow at a rate of 17.4% annually through to 2022, while skincare is estimated to increase by 10.4%.

The country has been witnessing a rise in the popularity of e-commerce cosmetics, with Nykaa and Amazon gaining in consumer support. Swamped by India’s growing population of Millennials taking to ordering cosmetics online, major brands, including Hindustan Unilever-owned Lakme and L’Oréal’s Maybelline, have been bringing more energy to their new product launches.

With this younger generation taking more of an interest in their appearance and seeking fashion and beauty trends on their smartphones, they have also been building up their knowledge of beauty trends around the world and are seeking more variety at a lower price point.

Having started business in India in 1994, L’Oréal sells a reduced range of products compared to other markets, including L’Oréal Paris, Garnier and Maybelline New-York cosmetics and professional hair products under the Matrix, Kérastase brands, and premium beauty products under Lancôme, Kiehl’s, Vichy and La Roche-Posay.

The company made its first Indian acquisition in 2013 with the purchase of Cheryl’s Cosmeceuticals.

Having spent three years “homogenising, formulating and bringing​” the Mumbai skincare brand “up to L’Oréal standards​”, Cheryl’s formulations have been upgraded “to a level where it can travel across markets​,” Jain told Mint​, the Indian business daily.

Jain joined L’Oréal India last August as the company’s first Indian managing director. He succeeded Jean-Christophe Letellier, who shifted to Copenhagen become head of the company’s Nordic region after a five-year stint in India.

Though he did not reveal details of any of the companies under his radar, some have already been approached by the French company’s global mergers and acquisitions team.

If in the next one year we haven’t got something, then we would have missed an opportunity​," Jain added.

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