Recruit Acquires Majority Stake In European Hair And Beauty Marketplace Wahanda For $171M

Wahanda, the European hair and beauty marketplace, has seen an exit of sorts. Japan’s Recruit Holdings, which already owned 10 percent of the London-based startup, has acquired a further 70 percent share for £112.5 million (~$171m), in a deal that sees Wahanda’s other backers cash out.

These include Fidelity Growth Partners, Ambient Sound Investments, 14W and Lepe Partners, along with private investors, including Brent Hoberman (founder of and Stefan Glaenzer (Partner at Passion Capital).

The acquisition means that Wahanda was valued at approximately $222 million, while the startup’s founder and CEO, Lopo Champalimaud, and its management team also retain a stake in the company, which I understand to be the remaining 20 percent.

Wahanda is thought to have previously raised a total of $37.6 million, so we can safely consider this a decent European exit, albeit not quite a home run for investors.

Meanwhile, Recruit Holdings, which owns a similar site, Hot Pepper Beauty, in Japan, is also investing a further £30 million ($46m) into Wahanda, money pegged for additional expansion across Europe. This will include adding to its 210-strong workforce, as well as funding further product developments and “ramping up the customer acquisition and retention strategies” in the U.K. and Europe.

The hair and beauty booking site is currently available in five countries — U.K., Germany, Lithuania, Switzerland and Austria — reaching 12,000 salons and spas, and expects to expand to a further three countries by June.

In October 2014, Wahanda acquired Germany’s Salonmeister, and only two weeks ago it acquired Austria’s Beautycheck. In January, the startup acqui-hired LemonLabs’ team, the Lithuanian mobile app development agency, to bed down on developing mobile apps for its service.

In a statement, Champalimaud said: “With its Hot Pepper Beauty business in Japan, Recruit has a wealth of experience in this space and understands how to scale our business. Our ambitions are aligned and the capital investment, expertise and knowledge that Recruit provides will enable us to continue on our growth trajectory, truly cementing our position as the leader in our field.”