Kering Creates New Beauty Division

French luxury group Kering announced the creation of a new division, Kering Beauté, which is set to develop the beauty category for several of its brands, including Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen.

Raffaella Cornaggia, a longtime executive of American beauty conglomerate Estée Lauder, has been named chief executive officer of the unit, reporting to managing director Jean-François Palus, Kering said.

Kering has long wanted to ramp up its business in the beauty space, exploring options more aggressively in recent months, including bringing some of its brand’s beauty activities in-house. Rival group LVMH has controlled both fashion and beauty for Christian Dior since the 1980s, building its fragrance, makeup and skincare line into a multi-billion dollar business. It also operates the category in-house for Givenchy, Kenzo and Louis Vuitton.

While L’Oréal—which essentially owns the beauty business for Kering’s Yves Saint Laurent name through a “very long-term” agreementh—has built that brand into a global force in perfume and makeup, Kering has repeatedly expressed frustration with its other beauty partner Coty, which operates Gucci beauty as well as holding licenses for most of its smaller brands.

In its statement Friday, Kering excluded Gucci —which is a core business for Coty and whose license isn’t expected to expire for at least another five years. But the statement suggested a deal could be underway to recover control of beauty for its other brands.

Kering Beauté will “develop an expertise in the beauty category for Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen” — all of which are currently licensed to Coty — as well as the jewellery brands Qeelin and Pomellato, the company said.

A Kering spokesperson declined to comment on any evolutions in the agreement with Coty. But the company could provide more detail on its plans when it presents annual results to investors on Feb. 15.

The new unit will “support these brands in the development of the beauty category, which is a natural extension of their universe,” the group said. “Kering is confident it can create value for the group and its houses, drawing on each of their unique identity in a way that is fully consistent with their strategy and market positioning.”

Kering Beauté’s new leader Cornaggia, an Italian national educated at Milan’s prestigious Bocconi University, started her career at L’Oréal before moving to Estée Lauder Companies, where she worked on Tom Ford Beauty, MAC Cosmetics and Aerin as well as the group’s namesake Estée Lauder line.

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