Italy's Kiko CEO says may bring in new investor to fund growth

Italian make-up group Kiko is in talks to bring in a minority investor to help fund growth in India, the Middle East and Asia and lift profitability, Chief Executive Cristina Scocchia said.


Photo: Kiko


Scocchia built her reputation as the Italy head of French cosmetics giant L'Oreal and arrived at Kiko last July to relaunch the family-owned group that was founded in 1997.

Kiko expanded abroad rapidly thanks to cheap but trendy products. It is now grappling with falling profit margins due to tougher competition and the e-commerce challenge facing all bricks-and-mortars retailers.

"We were pioneers, now we are no longer the only player in this market segment. Competition is stronger so we need to develop new strategies to return to profitable growth", Scocchia told Reuters in a telephone interview late on Wednesday.

Kiko, which competes with the likes of Max Factor, has seen its business formula replicated by smaller rivals in recent years while online competitors multiplied.

To finance a three-year business plan to 2020 Kiko is considering issuing new shares for an estimated 70-90 million euros ($86-$111 million).

Scocchia said a new investor, which could be a private equity fund, may take up the new stock. The group's owners are Italy's Percassi family, who also own Serie A football club Atalanta.

"We're thinking about the possibility of having a partner that can bring in new capital but also specific expertise in those geographical areas we want to develop," she said.

Scocchia said Kiko was in talks with a couple of potential investors and hoped to take a decision by the summer. She declined to give further details.

Under the plan, Kiko will invest 90 million euros to fund product research and marketing as well as to further digitalise the company and open 73 new outlets.

The group has more than 1,000 directly-owned stores in 21 countries and reaps 64 percent of its revenue outside Italy.

Last year it reported a 3 percent increase in revenues to 610 million euros but margins fell, Scocchia said.

In January, Kiko filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States where it closed 27 out of 30 shops as they were not making money.

"We've kept three which are important for the brand's image and then we want to invest significantly in e-commerce."

Scocchia didn't rule out a listing in the distant future.

"Going public is one of the goals we have set for ourselves. It's an important goal, but in the near term we have different priorities", she said.

 

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