Pure Beauty

Unilever sells Suave brand to Yellow Wood Partners, begins streamlining business

By Alessandro Carrara | Published: 15-Feb-2023

Heritage label Suave operates across the hair care, skin care, skin cleansing and deodorants categories

It comes after Unilever streamlined its portfolio of brands and inventory in 2022 

Unilever is selling personal care brand Suave as the conglomerate streamlines its portfolio.

Yellow Wood Partners will acquire Suave, which launched as a wallet-friendly line more than 90 years ago and is predominantly sold in the Americas. 

Suave will continue to be owned and operated by Unilever outside of the US and Canada.

“This is another step on our path to shift our portfolio towards strategic growth spaces,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, President of Unilever USA and CEO of Unilever Personal Care North America.

“Suave has been a much-loved brand since the 1930s, and I am confident it will continue to thrive and serve consumers under its new ownership in North America.”

Yellow Wood's brand portfolio includes Dr. Scholl's, Beacon Wellness Brands and the incubator behind Byoma and Isle of Paradise.

“Suave is ubiquitously recognised for its long history of providing accessible high-quality beauty products to American consumers and we are excited to add it to our portfolio of investments,” added Dana Schmaltz, Partner of Yellow Wood Partners.

Trimming the fat

The acquisition of Suave follows Unilever’s decision to streamline its portfolio of brands and inventory in 2022.

Over 50,000 skus were removed from its Personal Cared division, and it delisted over 60 local brands.

Graeme Pitkethly, Chief Financial Officer, said the removed business and skus amounted to 1% of Unilever's overall sales for its 2022 trading period.

Unilever’s overall sales increased by 9% last year, largely driven by a series of product price hikes which reached a record 13.3% in the group’s final quarter.

The company said it had raised prices to combat the “significant” input cost inflation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But this impacted the group’s overall sales volumes for the period, which saw declines of 2.1%.

The owner of Dove and Dermalogica was also met with criticism following the release of its full-year results, after it emerged that 2% of its net profit in 2022 came from Russia.

Shortly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, said “there is no place for responsible businesses” in Russia.

But in 2023, Unilever doubled down in defence of its decision to continue doing business in the country.

“We understand why there are calls for Unilever to leave Russia,” Unilever said in a statement.

“We also want to be clear that we are not trying to protect or manage our business in Russia.

“However, for companies like Unilever, which have a significant physical presence in the country, exiting is not straightforward.”

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