Duke Street in Simple 2.7x exit

The UK private equity firm has sold popular UK facial skincare brand Simple for £240m. It previously sold a non-core division to Electra for £80m.

Duke Street has completed a £240 million trade sale of Simple Health & Beauty, securing a 2.7 return multiple in base currency.

The facial skincare business has been sold to Alberto Culver, a publicly listed US rival whose brands include Nexxus, Noxzema, Alberto V05 and TreSemme, at a valuation of about 11 times the company’s 2009 EBIDTA.

Simple: Clean exit for Duke Street

Duke Street first backed Simple, previously called Accantia, in 2004, investing around £224 million. In 2006, it sold the company’s other division, feminine hygiene products brand Lil-lets, to Electra Partners for approximately £80 million, in order to focus purely on the facial skincare products. In 2007, it arranged a £120 million refinancing package for the business.

Under Duke Street’s stewardship, Simple outsourced its manufacturing and expanded its product range as well as its bottom line. Since being taken over by the London-based mid-market firm, the company’s net sales have shown an average annual increase of 15 percent, turning over £68 million last year. Simple has risen to become the number one facial skincare brand in the UK in terms of units sold, having increased it customers by 50 percent over 2 years to 5.5 million.

Duke Street is currently investing its sixth fund, closed on nearly €1 billion in 2007. It has deployed roughly 60 percent of its capital, according to the firm’s 2009 annual review.