Space NK set to be sold with Unilever circling

Laura Onita
Space NK, founded by Nicky Kinnaird (pictured), could be sold to consumer goods giant Unilever: Tony Buckingham

America’s Fisher family, who set up clothing brand Gap, are looking to offload their London beauty business Space NK, the Standard can reveal.

Manzanita Capital, founded by Bill Fisher, the son of Gap founder Don Fisher, is thought to be in advanced talks to sell the cosmetics retailer. Goldman Sachs is advising Space NK on the deal, it is understood. Sources say consumer goods giant Unilever has been eyeing the beauty chain.

The beauty apothecary, which began life as a single store in Covent Garden, has more than 60 shops in Britain and 29 in America.

Its founder Nicky Kinnaird stepped down from her role at Space NK in 2014. In 2007 she sold a 90% stake to the private equity house for an undisclosed sum.

The business, which sells upmarket make-up brands such as Laura Mercier and Nars, made pre-tax profits of £3.2 million on sales of £96.4 million for the year to March 25.

Unilever is thought to be looking to move into the more-upmarket beauty arena. Last year it was rumoured it was tabling a bid for cosmetics giant Estée Lauder. Unilever declined to comment on either deal.

City sources had linked The Hut Group, which owns more than 160 specialist websites including Skinstore.com and Myprotein.com, with the deal but the company refuted it had ever looked at Space NK.

Manzanita, based in London, also owns sister firm Space Brands, selling its own labels such as Eve Lom and Lipstick Queen, as well as posh candles purveyor Diptyque.

Manzanita could not be reached for comment.