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Hut Group snaps up luxury beauty brand ESPA

By Mark Kleinman, City Editor
The relentless expansion of The Hut Group, the British online health and beauty retailer, will continue this week when it acquires ESPA, the skincare and spa brand, for more than ?100m.
Sky News has learnt that The Hut Group has agreed to buy ESPA, whose products are sold in retailers such as John Lewis and Harvey Nichols as well as top hotel chains including Ritz Carlton, Peninsula and One&Only.
The deal, which will come less than a month after the UK-based company bought Glossybox, another beauty brand, is likely to be announced later this week, according to insiders.Sources said it would provide further evidence of The Hut Group's balance sheet firepower.ESPA, which is based in the UK, has a presence in more than 700 spas in 60 countries.It is being sold to The Hut Group by KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm.The latest acquisition by The Hut Group adds another major online beauty brand to a portfolio which includes Mio Skincare, Grow Gorgeous and Lookfantastic.com.Its expansion has been undertaken at breakneck pace, and last month it sold a €125m stake to Old Mutual Global Investors in a deal valuing the company at €2.5bn.
Headquartered in Cheshire, The Hut Group was set up in 2004 by Matthew Moulding and John Gallemore.It now employs more than 3,000 people and has said that it expects that figure to double by 2019.Sources said that The Hut Group, which Mr Moulding runs as chief executive, was on track to record sales this year of up to €750m - a 50% increase on 2016's figure.Last year, it also recorded a 67% rise in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to €50m.The Hut Group is on track to invest around €400m this year in a combination of technology projects and beauty brands, following €250m of investment last year.Existing shareholders in the company include Blackrock, the world's biggest asset manager, ‎the private equity giant KKR and Sofina, a Belgian investor.The Hut Group declined to comment.
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