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Estée Lauder Is Acquiring Perfume Maker Le Labo

The coolest of perfume brands has gone corporate.

Since it was founded in 2006, Le Labo has grown its perfume business into a full range of sprays, gels, lotions, soaps and candles -- and with it, a fan following that is nothing short of cultish. The line's success also attracted suitors in the business world, and on Tuesday Estée Lauder announced that it has signed a "definitive agreement" to acquire Le Labo in a deal that will likely close in November.

With stores in New York, London, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo and Hong Kong and offices in New York and London -- along with annual sales of $20 to $30 million, according to sources for WWD -- Le Labo is already operating on an international scale. But with the backing of a major beauty company, we'd expect to see things dial up in a big way in the coming years. The trick will be doing so while maintaining Le Labo's brand spirit of personalization and craftsmanship.

As Estée Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda put it in a statement, Le Labo is the "perfect complement" to its gleaming portfolio of prestige brands, which includes MAC Cosmetics, Jo Malone, La Mer, Bumble and Bumble, Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford and Smashbox (its most recent acquisition, in 2010). With Estée Lauder's sales hitting a record $10.79 billion in 2014, it looks like the perfumer will be in good hands.

After the acquisition, Le Labo will be overseen by Estée Lauder president John Demsey. A rep for the company did not immediately respond to request for comment on how much of the Le Labo team will remain on board post-transition or what positions founders Fabrice Penot and Eddie Roschiboth will hold. Both already have experience in the corporate beauty world, having met while working at L'Oreal. 

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