Revlon

Revlon is an American cosmetics, skin care, fragrance, and personal care company founded in 1932.

History

Revlon was founded in the midst of the Great Depression, 1931, by Charles Revson and his brother Joseph, along with a chemist, Charles Lachman, who contributed the "L" in the Revlon name. Starting with a single product — a new type of nail enamel — the three founders pooled their resources and developed a unique manufacturing process. Using pigments instead of dyes, Revlon developed a variety of new shades of opaque nail enamel. In 1937, Revlon started selling the polishes in department stores and drug stores. In six years, the company became a multimillion dollar organization. By 1940, Revlon offered an entire manicure line, and added lipstick to the collection. During World War II, Revlon created makeup and related products for the U.S. Army, which was honored in 1944 with the Army-Navy "E" Award for Excellence.

By the end of the war, Revlon was listed as one of America's top five cosmetic houses. Expanding its capabilities, the company bought Graef & Schmidt, a cutlery manufacturer seized by the government in 1943 because of German business ties. This acquisition made it possible for Revlon to produce its own manicure and pedicure instruments, instead of buying them from outside supply sources.

In November 1955, Revlon went public. The IPO price was $12 per share, but it reached $30 per share within 8 weeks.

In the 1960s, Revson segmented Revlon Inc into different divisions, each focusing on a different market. He borrowed this strategy from General Motors. Each division had its own target customer:

Revlon, the largest and most popular-priced brand:
- Princess Marcella Borghese, upscale/international
- Ultima II, premium
- Natural Wonder, juniors
- Moon Drops, dry skin
- Etherea, hypo-allergenic

In 1957, Revlon acquired Knomark, a shoe-polish company, and sold its shoe-polish line Esquire Shoe Polish in 1969. Other acquisitions, such as Ty-D-Bol, the maker of toilet cleansers, and a 27 percent interest in the Schick electric shaver company were soon discarded. Evan Picone, a women's sportswear manufacturer which came with a price tag of $12 million in 1962, was sold back to one of the original partners four years later for $1 million. However, the 1967 acquisition of U.S. Vitamin and Pharmaceutical Corporation made Revlon a leader in diabetes drugs.

The company began to market its products overseas at the end of the 1950s. By 1962, when Revlon debuted in Japan, there were subsidiaries in France, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, and Asia. Revlon's entrance into the Japanese market was typical of its international sales strategy. Instead of adapting its ads and using Japanese models, Revlon chose to use its basic U.S. advertising and models. Japanese women loved the American look, and the sales for 1962 came to almost $164 million.

In 1968, Revlon introduced Eterna27, the first cosmetic cream with an estrogen precursor called Progenitin (pregenolone acetate), as well as introducing the world's first American fashion designer fragrance, Norman Norell. Later, Revlon launched Braggi and Pub for men, and a line of wig maintenance products called Wig Wonder.

In 1970, Revlon acquired the Mitchum line of deodorants.

In 1973, Revlon introduced Charlie. Geared to the under-30 market, Charlie model Shelley Hack in Ralph Lauren clothes, personified the independent woman of the 1970s. This was the first perfume ad to feature a woman wearing pants. Charlie raised Revlon's net sales figures to $506 million for 1973 and almost $606 million the following year. Shelley Hack appeared on Oprah in 2007 to talk about the power of these Charlie print and commercial ads. Their follow-up fragrance, Jontue, became the number two best seller.

In 1973, model Lauren Hutton signed an exclusive modeling contact, agreeing to pose for Revlon's Ultima line for $400,000 for two years. She was featured on the cover of Newsweek for this ground-breaking cosmetics contract. Additionally, famed photographer Richard Avedon was signed on as the exclusive photographer for the brand - another cosmetics industry first.

In 1975, Charles Revson died. Michel Bergerac, who Revson had hired as President of the company, continued to expand the company holdings. Revlon acquired Coburn Optical Industries, an Oklahoma-based manufacturer of ophthalmic and optical processing equipment and supplies. Barnes-Hind, the largest U.S. marketer of hard contact lens solutions, was bought in 1976 and strengthened Revlon's share of the eye-care market. Revlon purchased Armour Pharmaceutical Company, a division of Armour and Company, from The Greyhound Corporation in 1977. Other acquisitions included the Lewis-Howe Company, makers of Tums antacid in 1978. These health-care operations helped sales figures to pass the $1 billion mark in 1977, bringing total sales to $1.7 billion in 1979.

In the mid-1980s, Revlon lost ground to Estée Lauder. Estee Lauder spent millions of dollars on numerous magazine ads featuring Czech supermodel Paulina Porizkova, shot by famed Chicago fashion photographer Victor Skrebneski. Revlon's share dropped from 20 percent to 10 percent of department store cosmetics sales. Sales at the drugstore also declined as Revlon lost shares to Noxell's Cover Girl brand. Revlon compensated with more acquisitions; Max Factor, Ellen Betrix, Charles of the Ritz, Germaine Monteil, Almay, Fermodyl, Lancaster, Aziza, and Halston. The 1977 acquisition of Carlos Colomer, a Spanish professional beauty supply distributor, brought Fermodyl and Roux and helped introduce Revlon to the world of ethnic care: Creme of Nature, Realistic, Lovely Color and Milk and Honey. In 1983 the company attempted an unsuccessful hostile takeover of Gillette. In 1989, Revlon became one of the first companies to replace animal tests with alternative safety testing methods.

Revlon counter in New Zealand department store Farmers

On November 5, 1985, at a price of $58 per share, totaling $2.7 billion, Revlon was sold to Pantry Pride (later renamed to Revlon Group, Inc.), a subsidiary of Ronald Perelman's MacAndrews & Forbes. The buyout--engineered with the help of junk bond king Michael P. Milken--saddled Revlon with a huge $2.9 billion debt load, which became an albatross around the company's neck for years to come. Pantry Pride Inc. offered to buy any or all of Revlon's 38.2 million outstanding shares for $47.5 a share when its street price stood at $45 a share. Initially rejected, he repeatedly raised his offer until it reached $53 a share while fighting Revlon's management every step of the way. Forstmann Little & Company swooped in at $56 a share, a brief public bidding war ensued, and Perelman triumphed with an offer of $58 a share. Perelman paid $1.8 billion to Revlon's shareholders, but he also paid $900 million of other costs associated with the purchase. Perelman had Revlon sell four divisions: two for $1 billion, the vision care division for $574 million, and the National Health Laboratories division which became a publicly owned corporation in 1988. Additional make-up lines were purchased for Revlon: Max Factor in 1987 and Betrix in 1989, later sold to Procter & Gamble in 1991. Also in 1991, Revlon sold the Clean & Clear brand to Johnson & Johnson.

In March 2011, Revlon acquired Mirage Cosmetics, makers of Sinful Colors nail products.

In August 2013, Revlon Consumer Products Corp. bought the Colomer Group from CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm, for $660 million.
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