German retailer Douglas lays foundation for possible IPO

Credit: REUTERS/KAI PFAFFENBACH

German perfume and cosmetics retailer Douglas has set the scene for a possible return to the stock market by growing strongly online, although a decision rests with private equity owners CVC Capital, its chief executive said.

DUESSELDORF, Germany, Dec 18 (Reuters) - German perfume and cosmetics retailer Douglas has set the scene for a possible return to the stock market by growing strongly online, although a decision rests with private equity owners CVC Capital, its chief executive said.

"We have brought this company to excellent growth and want to get even more profitable. The foundation is laid," Tina Mueller, the former Opel marketing boss who took over as CEO in 2017, told Reuters in an interview.

"A public offering is a decision for CVC," she added.

Douglas is majority owned by private equity group CVC Capital Partners, which bought its stake in the retailer from U.S. buyout firm Advent in 2015 in a deal worth almost 3 billion euros ($3.31 billion). Advent took Douglas private in 2013.

Douglas, which runs around 2,400 stores in 26 countries in Europe, saw sales rise 5.4% to 3.5 billion euros in the 2018/19 fiscal year and returned to a profit of 17 million euros, after a loss of 290 million the previous year.

Douglas has put a big focus on ecommerce in recent years and now makes almost a third of its turnover in Germany online.

Mueller said Douglas could consider adding clothing to its site, after already expanding into jewellery and handbags, heightening competition the likes of fashion retailer Zalando ZALG.DE, which last year started selling beauty products.

Mueller, who worked in the beauty sector for 20 years with stints at Henkel and L'Oreal, said Douglas would exclusively offer skincare products from reality TV star Kylie Jenner in Europe in May, saying she saw great sales potential.

Coty Inc COTY.N said last month it would pay $600 million for a majority stake in Jenner's make-up and skincare businesses.

($1 = 0.9073 euros)

(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi Writing by Emma Thomasson Editing by Michelle Martin)

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