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Estee Lauder and Tom Ford: Complementary brands with potential to be more than the sum of their parts

Annie Brown
05 August 2022

Estee Lauder has announced intentions to acquire luxury fashion house Tom Ford for $3bn, in its largest reported acquisition deal to date.

The proposed acquisition makes sense for Estee Lauder given it already works closely with Tom Ford via its brand license for the Tom Ford Beauty line. Our latest study suggests that the Brand Value of Tom Ford Beauty alone is approximately $1bn, driven by growth outlook and brand awareness. In its third-quarter earnings call three months ago, Estee Lauder said that Tom Ford Beauty was one of a few brands with double-digit sales growth. Tom Ford is a well-established brand, achieving 62% awareness among US consumers in our latest global survey. The brand value of Tom Ford as a whole is not known, but could be worth in the region of $2bn.

Historically, Estee Lauder has focused on cosmetics and wellness brand acquisitions. During the pandemic, home-working and reduced socialisation led to a dip in colour cosmetics, and an upsurge in wellness products. Continuing supply chain disruptions and rising material costs are posing a threat to cosmetics players like Estee Lauder. Analysts claim that this move to acquire Tom Ford signals a potential wider venture to become a diversified luxury house like LVMH. Unlike LVMH, which has a well-known record of acquiring and transforming various small and large luxury players from all over the world, Estee Lauder’s record is more conservative and focused on the US. 2/3 of Estee Lauder acquisitions in the past 30 years were purchases of US companies, versus 1/5 for LVMH.

A notable past US acquisition by Estee Lauder was its acquisition of Jo Malone in 1999. Similarly to Tom Ford, the brand is eponymous. Jo Malone remained as Creative Director of the brand under Estee Lauder’s ownership until 2006 when she left. Her exit deal meant that she lost control of her brand, her own name. Her regret over this decision is well-documented and in 2011, she launched a new perfume brand, Jo Loves. Although details are not yet confirmed, it is likely Estee Lauder will adopt a similar strategy for the integration of Tom Ford and therefore the ex-Gucci designer is likely to remain onboard for the foreseeable future.

About the Author

Annie Brown
Associate
Brand Finance

Annie is a qualified management accountant and has worked on Brand and Business valuation projects serving global clients, including Barclays and Shell. She is experienced across of variety of services including brand licensing, research analytics, rebrand uplift and balance sheet valuation. Annie heads up various studies at Brand Finance, including the annual Global Intangible Finance Tracker (GIFT™) and the Brand Guardianship Index. In addition, Annie has conducted research and analysis for the Brand Finance brand rankings, specialising in Banking, Retail and Oil & Gas sectors. Annie has served clients worldwide, with a particular focus on the USA and the Middle East. Annie joined Brand Finance as an Analyst in August 2017 after graduating from The University of Edinburgh with a Masters degree in Philosophy and Economics. She has since completed her CIMA professional qualification.

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