Now The Maker Of Nina Ricci Perfume Wants To Break The Gender Mold

Ever wonder why the people who wear the most fragrances and fashion are women but the financiers who fund the creations they display are almost universally male?

Turns out that Puig, the third-generation Spanish family with brands from Nina Ricci to John Paul Gaultier and Paco Rabanne, has been asking the same question.

Vaultier7, a new all-female investment fund management group founded by experienced deal-makers Montse Suarez and Anna Sweeting, wants to break this mold. And the company dubbed “the Richemont of Spain” is providing some of the financial backing.

Spanish treasure

Puig, which had revenues of €1.8BN ($2BN) in 2016, combines the ownership of brands such as Ricci, Gaultier, Rabanne, Caroline Herrera, Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur with licenses of names including Prada, Valentino and Comme des Garcons, selling its products in 150 counties.

It is investing an undisclosed amount in Vaultier7, continuing an investment strategy under chief executive Marc Puig that has seen the 103-year-old Spanish fragrance and fashion group take minority stakes in companies that it believes will help it address a changing global marketplace.

Puig has invested in EB Florals, the flower-powered fragrances and candles company of the Los Angeles celebrity florist Eric Buterbaugh, who designed the floral arrangements at events including the 18th birthday of Britain’s Princess Beatrice at Windsor Castle.

It has also taken a minority stake in Granado, the official pharmacy of the Brazilian royal family and owner of Phebo, Brazil’s first luxury perfumery brand.

A British mold-breaker

The company’s latest stake purchase is in Vaultier7, which has been founded with the specific aim of backing a new wave of challenger consumer brands in the beauty and personal care, health and wellness and lifestyle sectors.

The London-based firm claims to be the UK’s first female-led specialist investment fund dedicated to partnering high-growth category creators and disruptors in these converging industries and has raised $90M from investors including Puig, which has been identified as a strategic partner for the new outfit.

Suarez and Sweeting believe there is a gap in the market to fund businesses that have got past the start-up stage and need capital to grow and take advantage of market opportunities.

The new venture’s first fund will invest in companies with revenues of £3m to £15m, providing growth capital between £2m -£10m, with a focus on UK and Europe.

Transformational dynamics

Vaultier7 believes its target consumer landscapes are facing unprecedented change, with evolving preferences shaped by digital commerce growth, demographic changes driven by women and millennials and shifting psychographics, with purchasing increasingly orientated around lifestyle choices, backed by the desire to live in a healthy, holistic and proactive way.

It argues that these transformational dynamics are paving the way for pioneering, focused and agile consumer brands to take on the established players that have to date dominated the market.

Suarez, who hails from Barcelona but has lived in the UK for the past 16 years, worked most recently for B&B Investment Partners, an investment fund sponsored by Walgreens Boots Alliance.

She says: “We’re looking at opportunities in the UK and Europe in companies that have already proved their concepts and are operating in beauty, personal care or health and wellness.”

Vaultier7 has already identified a number of potential investments and hopes to conclude three purchases by the end of this year,

“There’s a gap in the branded consumer space for institutional funds investing at the level that we’re investing,“ adds Sweeting, who previously founded an investment fund and worked for Linley, the British retail brand, and sees Vaultier7 as more similar to a private equity fund than venture capital.

“In the UK and Europe, growth-stage investment activity isn’t really in sync with the pace at which entrepreneurs are innovating in this sector,” she says. “There’s a clear opportunity there for us to come in and fill that funding gap.”