Beauty brands have become a recent favorite in the M&A world, with no signs of fading. Kao’s acquisition of Oribe Hair Care from Luxury Brand Partners felt like a natural next step for the two brands, which had been partners for some time. Kao’s industry clout—particularly in the haircolor arena, with Goldwell in its portfolio—combined with Oribe’s prestigious reputation in the styling space sets the stage for a successful marriage. We asked Daniel Kaner, Oribe Hair Care president, and Cory Couts, global president of Kao’s salon division, to weigh in.
Why was now the right time for the acquisition?
DANIEL KANER: Oribe Hair Care was founded in 2008 and has grown from a prestige haircare brand to a globally recognized beauty authority. Kao has an equal respect for the salon owner and views product innovation in the same way. Oribe and Goldwell, Kao’s premium color brand, have been partnering through an educational alliance since 2015; however, the relationship goes back much further than that. We share many of Kao’s values, especially when it comes to the professional community, innovative product development and inspiring education.
In what ways will the acquisition most noticeably expand Oribe and Kao’s pre-existing relationship?
Cory Couts: In the US, there won’t be any noticeable changes after the transition period except that many of Oribe’s salespeople will be focused solely on Oribe, as they won’t be representing any additional brands for the foreseeable future. We already have an extensive cooperation in education and rewards programs, and our salon partners will see that continue and expand. Our current relationship is working well, so there is no need for us to tinker with success.
What immediate and long-term changes will we see?
DK: We will continue to develop extraordinary products with the professional community at the center of our efforts. We now have access to Kao’s extensive resources, which will benefit our product offerings moving forward. Additionally, we will continue to focus on education. The customer will see no immediate or long-term changes to service, product quality or educational opportunities. I’m happy to say that I’m continuing on as president of the organization and look forward to exceeding expectations and focusing on our salon segment. The Oribe education, sales, marketing and management teams will continue to run independently under my leadership.
What does the acquisition mean for Oribe’s salon partners?
DK: The professional community will continue to be the focus of Oribe Hair Care. I’ve spoken to many of our partners directly to make sure they know they are our number-one priority. This is the right move for Oribe, and we're excited for our next chapter.
What makes Oribe an ideal acquisition for Kao?
CC: Oribe is a like-minded organization that puts salons first and has a drive for products that perform. Also ideal is the prestige positioning that will live well side-by-side with our other brands. In terms of acquisition or alliances, we are extraordinarily selective with whom we consider. Mindset and strategic fit are much more important to us than merely sales volume or scale. The most important thing Oribe brings Kao is talent. We are not just buying a brand; we are buying a company as well as the leadership of Daniel Kaner and his team. We see huge opportunities for learning which allows the opportunity to improve the entire portfolio.
Will Oribe have use of the Academy, and if so, in what capacity?
CC: We have over 30 academies in major cities around the world, including New York City, to which Oribe will have full access. How that access will be leveraged and scheduled is still a point for our teams to explore.