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Estée’s $3.6 Billion Revitalizing Cream

Fabrizio Freda
Estée Lauder’s M&A strategy has lagged behind its peers, which have scooped up brands that might’ve fit nicely in Lauder’s portfolio. Patrick McMullan/Getty Images
Rachel Strugatz
June 5, 2024

At long last, The Estée Lauder Companies has completed its drawn-out acquisition of Deciem, the Toronto-based parentco of The Ordinary, the Gen Z skincare favorite. Earlier this week, Lauder paid out about $860 million, following its initial minority investment in 2017, which brings its total outlay to approximately $1.7 billion. I’m told that Deciem’s valuation at the time of closing was about $3.6 billion. The company is projected to hit close to $700 million in net sales in fiscal 2024. 

This is some of the best money that Lauder, which has seen its market cap decline by $22 billion in the past year, has spent in a decade. Back in 2014, of course, it was widely reported that the company paid $60 million (I actually heard that it was $130 million) to buy Le Labo when its sales were touching $30 million per year. Today, Le Labo’s sales have reportedly increased tenfold. Of course, Deciem offers products at a much lower price point—–The Ordinary’s AHA and BHA exfoliants cost $9.50 while Le Labo’s perfumes run well over $300—but one Lauder executive suggested that Estée Lauder C.E.O. Fabrizio Freda was eventually persuaded by the value of the lower price point. “He has come around to the idea of accessibility,” this person said. (A spokesperson for The Estée Lauder Companies declined to comment.)