Unilever to buy fastest-growing skincare firm in South Korea for £1.9bn

Marmite maker says it will complement its portfolio

In a move aimed at consolidating its position in the skincare market, Unilever announced today that it will be buying a South Korean cosmetics firm ‘Carver Korea’ for £1.9bn from shareholders including Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital.

Bain and Goldman Sachs had jointly bought around 60 per cent stake in Carver Korea last year for around $500 million.

Confirming this development, Alan Jope, Unilever president of personal care, said: “We are delighted to be acquiring Carver Korea. It is an impressive business that is completely aligned to our personal care strategy. It will significantly strengthen our position in north Asia, the largest skincare market in the world, and will complement our existing portfolio, enabling us to offer luxury skincare products at attainable price points.”

Founded in 1999, Carver is reportedly the fastest growing skincare business in South Korea and has shown exponential growth over the last five years — with sales of £282 million and earnings of £120 million in just last year. 

The consumer goods giant believes that buying the Seoul-based firm will help it gain ground in the Korean beauty market, where hair and beauty trends often influence ones further west. South Korea is also the world’s fourth-largest market for skin care.

The tie-up is subject to regulatory approval.

This is not the first time Unilever has struck a deal in the beauty business — in 2015 alone, it bought four high-end skin-care brands.

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