L’Oréal is the world’s largest beauty and haircare company and is also the frontrunner when it comes to buying new brands to bulk up its formidable portfolio – 24 buyouts and 10 investments over the past 20 years.

In the past 18 months alone, the cosmetics giant has acquired Youth To the People, the US vegan skincare brand, and Takami, the prestige Japanese skincare brand founded by Dr Hiroshi Takami.

The multinational is making another investment in J-Beauty through its corporate venture capital fund BOLD (Business Opportunities for L’Oréal Development).  In a bid to intensify its direct-to-consumer cred, L’Oréal has acquired a minority stake in Sparty, which specialises in personalised beauty.

The move is significant because Sparty’s brands such as Medulla haircare and Hotaru skincare are both DTC, a business model which is top-of-mind for the world’s biggest beauty companies as they seek to boost online sales.

Medulla was launched in 2018 and offers individualised “prescriptions” to consumers. Hotaru debuted in 2020 and also offers personalised skincare products.

Japan is one of the most sophisticated and influential beauty markets, says Jean-Pierre Charriton, CEO of L’Oréal Japan. “In Japan, personalised consumer experience is highly valued, and we are seeing new trends and innovations when it comes to personalisation, especially in beauty. We are thrilled to be partnering with Sparty, a pioneer in personalised beauty as well as a game-changer within Japan’s growing D2C market.”

L’Oréal has been steadily building its personalised beauty business with innovations such as YSL Beaute’s Rouge Sur Mesure lipstick, the smart at-home lip colour creator, and Custom D.O.S.E from SkinCeuticals, the personalised serum service. Yosuke Miyama, the founder and CEO of Sparty, says the new agreement will allow the company to embark on the next step of its growth strategy and scale the business both in Japan and overseas.

BOLD was founded in 2018 with a mission to invest in high growth, innovative companies. The fund holds strategic stakes in the perfume brand Sillages Paris, the biotechnology companies Carbios and Global Bioenergies and the water-saving company Gjosa.

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