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14 Apr

How L’Oréal USA’s West Coast Headquarters Helping Acquisitions Grow

Carol Hamilton let loose a yelp of surprise when she learned she would oversee the opening of L’Oréal USA’s first major West Coast office not removed from the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.

It was October 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic had been raging for six months. On the Latest York City restaurant where she was lunching along with her boss, the gang was sparse with only five tables occupied. Her latest task seemed daunting but intriguing. Lead the creation of a 120,000-square-foot space in a dilapidated warehouse in El Segundo, a little bit seaside town just south of Los Angeles International Airport, that might include a 25-acre campus. 

The challenge was to design a latest office space attractive enough to coax employees out of their homes and back into the mainstream workplace. The brand new headquarters were also expected to accommodate 4 indie brands that  L’Oréal had acquired: NYX Skilled Makeup, Urban Decay, Pulp Riot and Youth to the People.

It took Hamilton six months before she was capable of physically visit the location, which was nearly two years within the making. “I stood inside this empty, vast constructing and wondered if anyone would come,” said Hamilton, the group president, acquisitions and business development for L’Oréal USA, talking about making the cosmetic company’s California dream a reality.

Seven design iterations and 7 delays later, the result was an unconventional West Coast office that opened on June 22, 2022, with a particular Southern California vibe. There was a gym with private showers, color schemes according to California’s sunsets and sunrises, a lounge vibe with couches and rugs, and a lot of open space. “This was a really, very big week for me in my life because I also had just turned 70,” Hamilton shared. “I felt this task kicked ageism within the butt.”

Hamilton also kept what she called her day job as head of acquisitions and development. L’Oréal, which encompasses 35 brands globally, has a protracted history of strategic acquisitions that help it conquer latest ground. “We actually understand and appreciate that other firms give you ideas we couldn’t possible have give you and that we really need to speculate in,” she said.

Only recently, L’Oréal announced a $2.5 billion deal to amass Aesop, the Australian luxury personal care brand, which was founded in 1987.  

Hamilton, who commutes between Los Angeles and Latest York for her bi-coastal job, continues to scout the wonder field for brand spanking new brands that show promise. “These firms see beauty through a special lens,” she noted. “We love meeting with founders from the very starting after which, after all, cultivating and mentoring them. That’s how a lot of our acquisitions have been done.”

These potential acquisitions have to have some sales under their belt and be profitable before interesting L’Oréal. “Profitability is essential,” Hamilton said. “What I actually have seen within the last five years is that indie brands are specializing in becoming profitable faster.”

She also believes it will be significant for a young brand to have its own DNA. “I all the time ask myself, ‘Does this brand have soul?’” she noted. “It’s something beautifully crafted but not from a manufacturer’s side. It’s the surprise factor of how the weather and the layers of a brand have been put together.”

But when it comes right down to deciding whether or not to amass a latest company, Hamilton, one of the experienced executives within the business, said she’s learned to trust one voice specifically: her gut feeling.

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