Branching out on its own: What plans does Wella’s CEO have for a fledgling company with heritage brands?

Following KKR’s acquisition of Coty’s Professional Beauty business and the establishment of Wella Company at the end of 2020, Cosmetics Business speaks with Wella Company boss Annie Young-Scrivner about investment in innovation and getting the right team together

Annie Young-Scrivner, CEO, Wella Company

In the thick of 2020’s first lockdown, beauty giant Coty shook up the beauty world with the news that it was to divest its Professional Beauty and Retail Hair businesses to US private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).

The jewel in the crown of KKR’s purchase was Wella Professionals, the hair care label founded in 1880 by German hairdresser Franz Ströher and bought by Coty from Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 2016.

It was not alone, however. Other well-loved brands divested as part of the Wella Professionals sale were Clairol, Nioxin, Sebastian Professional, ghd and nail brand OPI, all grouped together under the newly-formed title Wella Company.

And with the new company, which officially launched in December, came a new CEO, with the former head of Godiva Chocolatier, Annie Young-Scrivner, taking on the leadership role.

While Young-Scrivner has helmed Wella Company for less than a year, her leadership has ushered in some positive changes for the company’s portfolio brands, which had, dare it be said, been a bit neglected while part of Coty’s sprawling family.

“This is a company that KKR has looked at several times,” Young-Scrivner tells Cosmetics Business. “And one of the things that they realised is investment on brand innovation probably wasn't where it needed to be.”

The intervening months have seen something of a turnaround, as the financials suggest.

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