Vodka king buys Trilogy skincare company

The country's best known cocktail king has mixed with a local skincare company to conquer the world of beauty. Listed company Ecoya – headed by Geoff Ross - has just bought 100% of Trilogy Natural Products for $10 million up front and will shell out up to $10 million of an additional earn out payment consisted of 50% paid in cash and 50% in Ecoya shares issued at $1 each.

The country's best known cocktail king has mixed with a local skincare company to conquer the world of beauty.

Listed company Ecoya – headed by Geoff Ross - has just bought 100% of Trilogy Natural Products for $10 million up front and will shell out up to $10 million of an additional earn out payment consisted of 50% paid in cash and 50% in Ecoya shares issued at $1 each.

The deal is unconditional and is being funded by the raising of new equity and debt for the settlement on September 17. The equity raise is underpinned by The Business Bakery LP and Craigs Investment Partners.

Ecoya executive chairman Geoff Ross told the National Business Review the addition of a brand of skincare to Ecoya’s range of home fragrance and body and bath products has been on the agenda since the company was founded.

“Home fragrances is where the business started and the natural progression is to round up that complete offering for you, your body and your home, with skincare.

“[Trilogy] is one of the pioneers in natural skincare and it would be described as the leader in natural skincare in New Zealand and Australia.”

Ecoya was looking for a skincare company that shared similar views with them on natural ingredients and the emerging opportunities in the affordable luxury category.

When Trilogy approached the company three months ago, Ecoya’s executive team - which features names such as Rob Fyfe, Grant Baker and Stephen Sinclair - after carefully studying its business model was “excited” about the opportunity.

It was a perfect fit - said Mr Ross – as both businesses are “entrepreneurial” and have a “similar culture”.

Trilogy was founded by sisters Sarah Gibbs and Catherine de Groot in 2002 in Wellington and in 8 years it expanded from a boutique local operation to an international brand.

Its range of 40 products is sold in over 3,500 stores in 16 international markets including: Australasia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Trilogy is even sold at Scott Base in Antarctica.

It was featured in the Deloitte Fast 50 list in 2006, 2007 and 2008, with revenue exceeding $9.5 million per annum with a 32% annual growth rate since 2006

While Trilogy is now under new ownership, the sisters will continue to run the business during the earn out period and then they are likely to remain involved in the businesses in an advisory capacity.

“Trilogy will continue to remain as the Trilogy brand and Ecoya will continue to remain as the Ecoya brand; collectively we’ll run them as two different brands but use them to have two horses in the race,” said Mr Ross.

The purchase will have no impact on the funds raised for the Ecoya brand in the listing, he said.

Mrs de Groot said while Trilogy has done exceptionally well on its own, “just like any other business” it required more capital to expand further and move to the next level.

“We are still quite small in the skincare industry even though we are punching above our weight in terms of brand awareness.

“We didn’t feel that just anyone was right for our baby [but] we got some early comfort from our intuitive feeling in terms of synergies around business management, the business culture and the whole brand alignment.”

Mr Ross said having the skincare company in Ecoya’s portfolio offers “exciting” distribution synergies for both businesses.

“Trilogy is very active in the UK and Ireland – it is now in selected Boots stores for example - but has no presence in the US. Ecoya hasn’t entered the UK yet, but is well underway in the US.

“Ecoya is in David Jones, Trilogy is in Myer. Trilogy's home market strength is in New Zealand. Ecoya’s is in Australia. So there are many areas we can work together in all our markets.”

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