December 20, Kao Corporation announced its acquisition of Oribe Hair Care from Luxury Brand Partners.
Oribe will join Kao's Salon Division portfolio of professional beauty brands including Goldwell and KMS. Oribe is known for its hair care, skincare, body care, makeup, tools and accessories, and holds a strong presence in the top-tier professional salon segment. Goldwell is a full-service line of stylist-exclusive hair products designed for the professional's needs, and KMS' hair care and styling products suit creative stylists and their clients.
In this exclusive interview with MODERN SALON, we speak with Daniel Kaner (co-founder and current co-president of Oribe, who will be named president of the newly acquired entity) and Cory Couts (Global President, Kao Salon Division) about the acquisition, and how Oribe will join brands Goldwell and KMS under the Kao umbrella.
MS: Congratulations on this big news! This seems like a great partnership, especially because Oribe and Goldwell have had an alliance since 2015. How did the alliance set the stage for this acquisition?
DANIEL KANER: The alliance was formed in 2015 but Cory and I had conversations starting in 2011. It was his idea to talk about what could be and it didn’t take us long to see there are so many alignments, as far as our love for the professional community and our focus on the salons we work with. During these past few years, there has grown a strong spirit of collaboration. At every event Oribe has done around the country, the Goldwell North American leadership team would attend, and the way we worked together was so beautiful. Everyone came together to create gorgeous looks and it just became second nature to start inviting Goldwell to everything we did, including our holiday party. We just work very, very well together.
CORY COUTS: Because we had these years together through the alliance, we have built mutual trust. The feeling from both sides as we went into negotiations is that we trusted each other. There was no jockeying for position, just a sense that this is a good idea, how do we get it done. We were going through this as friends so even in the middle of the acquisition, we could settle things with a text or a quick call.
MS: Why was the Oribe brand a good acquisition for KAO?
CC: What made the alliance so attractive is that we were trying to do the same thing but both bringing something different to the party. At all the various events Oribe has, we were a part of providing an immersive experience in the hair because Oribe doesn’t have a color line. They recognized we had the artistry and education and the products to bring that to life. We love hanging out with the Oribe salons, and this alliance brought us access to meeting new people we hadn’t met before. The products were a match. The goals were a match. The people were a match. When it comes to an acquisition, it was a natural progression. We had space in our portfolio for a prestige brand, and we work so well together.
DK: We have 22 highly trained educators who are such a huge part of the equation. Color is a dominant part of a creative way to express oneself, and we didn’t have that component. Culture is also really important to the Oribe brand and the Oribe team, and Goldwell fit so beautifully within our business, education and culture. We have shared values as a management team, and similar ideas on respect and strategy. We love the Goldwell team because they’re so disciplined and respectful and logical.
MS: Globally, how will this news grow the Oribe brand?
CC: Oribe already has a strong presence in many countries and Kao has a little bit more of a geographic footprint. Moving forward together, we’ll look at our strong spots and how to match them up, deciding what should be in the different distribution networks. It is going to be a little bit of a journey but the structure isn’t as important as the expertise, the people, the assets, and the technologies we have around the world.
DK: As a boutique brand that has grown through relationships, we’re very excited to have a designated direct sales team with an Oribe-only focus. We used to share that team with other LBP brands but now our customers have the luxury of this single focus, of having a team immersed in our culture, our ideals and our values. It is a huge benefit for our salons, this alliance, from both an education and a business perspective.
CC: Education will continue to lead. When you do education with the right intention and the right way, the business will follow.
MS: Speaking to salon owners, what do you want them to understand about how this acquisition will impact them?
DK: I’ve made 90 personal calls this morning, starting at 5am. What I want your readers to know is that this is a really a great thing for Oribe the brand. And a great thing for Oribe the team. The people who built Oribe hair care are the salon owners that trusted us and we would never let them down. Technically or spiritually, we believe in their values, we will continue to create programs that benefit them, in both business and craft. Our hope is that with this partnership we are going to be able to bring them more, and I couldn’t be more excited to be allowed to continue leading the process with our beloved team.
MS: And, Daniel, how fantastic to have just been awarded the Brand Builder of the Year award at the WWD 2017 Beauty Inc Awards, and to then have this big news announced.
DK: Yes, with my partner Tev Finger, it was wonderful. We had just come from San Francisco from our largest Oribe Atelier to date. We had 550 people, it was standing-room only and I couldn’t have been more proud of our team. Then, to fly to New York that same day, and to have been handed that award, it was just delightful.
READ MORE ABOUT THE ACQUISITION HERE.
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