* Douglas makes third attempt to buy Nocibe
* Combined group would be France's No. 2 perfume seller by
* Deal subject to cartel approval and labour talks
* Douglas says it is open to more opportunities
FRANKFURT, Oct 21 The German books-to-cosmetics
retailer Douglas Holding is in exclusive talks to buy the French
perfumery chain Nocibe from the private equity firm Charterhouse
Capital, it said on Monday, in a deal that would make it
France's second largest perfume seller.
Douglas, owned by the private equity firm Advent, has said
it wants to expand its perfumes business, which it sees as
having stronger growth prospects than its confectionery,
jewellery or book stores.
Douglas CEO Henning Kreke said the French perfume market was
worth more than 3 billion euros ($4.1 billion) a year.
"We've looked at buying Nocibe twice before and we've very
happy that we're managing it at the third attempt with our new
partner, Advent," Kreke told reporters.
Kreke and Advent managing director Ranjan Sen declined to
comment on the value of the deal. Media reports last week
suggested a valuation of between 500 million and 550 million
euros for Nocibe.
With a combined 625 stores and 4,000 employees, the purchase
would make Douglas the second largest perfumery chain in France
in terms of revenue, behind LVMH's Sephora and ahead
Planet Retail analyst Denise Klug said the Douglas concept
would fit well in France, but that it would need to make its
stores stand out.
"I think Sephora really is a fierce competitor. It managed
to create a unique selling proposition by launching the latest
retail technology instore and to perfectly link its in-store and
online offerings," she said. "The chain is very popular with
highly influential beauty bloggers."
Kreke said Douglas would look to use some of Nocibe's ideas
in other countries, such as its beauty salon services, and try
to boost online sales. There was no decision yet on whether to
keep both the Nocibe and Douglas brands or merge them, he added.
The deal is subject to approval by the cartel authorities
and the outcome of talks with labour representatives in France,
Douglas said in June it had 500 million euros available for
the expansion of its beauty business but the managers said on
Monday this was not a final amount.
"It doesn't mean it's 500 million and that's it," Sen said.
Kreke said Douglas would "continue to look for other
opportunities, both within and outside Europe", but declined to
be more specific.