The government ban that led to a $450m payday for Bondi Sands founders

The government ban that led to a $450m payday for Bondi Sands founders

Bondi Sands, via Facebook.

A decision by the Victorian Government to introduce restrictions on solariums in 2008 has led to a reported $450 million payday some 15 years later for the young entrepreneurs who founded Bondi Sands.

Shaun Wilson and Blair James, who established Bondi Sands in 2012, have sold the Melbourne-based business to Japanese chemicals and cosmetics giant Kao Corporation.

While the company has not disclosed the value of the deal, it is rumoured to be around $450 million as Kao Corporation takes control of Australia’s top-selling self-tanning brand.

The figure is not far off the $500 million Bondi Sands was reported to be worth by private equity in 2020, a year in which capital markets were much stronger and the company had reported $65 million in revenue.

Wilson and James began working on their first products in 2009 in the wake of Victorian Government’s crackdown on tanning salons for under-18s before launching to the market three years later with just three self-tanning products.

Today, Bondi Sands has 56 products, including broad-spectrum sunscreens and after-sun products, that are sold in more than 32 countries.

Kao Group, which produces cosmetic brands such as John Frieda, Jergens, Curél and Bioré, has announced it has signed an agreement to buy Bondi Sands Australia Pty Ltd and related Bondi Sands companies. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval.

The Japanese company says it has secured Bondi Sands to bolster its portfolio in the skin protection category.

Kao plans to leverage its UV care technologies in the Japanese market and self-tanning technologies in the US market to expand Bondi Sands globally.

“Bondi Sands is an incredible brand and a perfect fit for the Kao Consumer Care Business portfolio,” says Karen Frank, the president of Kao’s Consumer Care Business in the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“Quality, innovation, environmental responsibility, accessibility and community are at the forefront of everything it does, ideally aligning Bondi Sands to our own brand values and corporate philosophy, which we call the ‘Kao Way’.

“The addition of Bondi Sands to our consumer family of brands will greatly advance our mission to be the preeminent leader in the global skin protection business and continue our journey of offering diverse products that promote a ‘Kirei’ lifestyle that is healthy, inclusive and sustainable for all.”

The sale to Kao fulfills the founder’s strategy to build a global brand and comes two years after Wilson and James were looking for a trade sale or private equity buyout of the business.

Business News Australia has sought further comment from Wilson, the Bondi Sands CEO but, in the meantime, Wilson says in a statement that the acquisition provides a key opportunity for the business to grow further.

“Kao’s values and principles match those of Bondi Sands, as we both share an unyielding commitment to delivering innovative products that protect the skin and enhance the lives of our valued customers worldwide,” Wilson says.

“The integration of Kao’s renowned scientific and technological resources into our operations is an unparalleled opportunity that will significantly contribute to the exponential growth of our brand, empowering us to further expand our product offerings and advance our research and development initiatives.

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