JD Sports goes to new lengths to enter beauty arena with Hairburst investment

By Becky Bargh | Published: 28-Sep-2021

Hairburst, a social media favourite, is expected to acquire more online bolt-on businesses following JD’s share purchase

JD Sports, the sports high street chain helmed by retail entrepreneur Peter Cowgill, has made its first foray into the lucrative beauty market by investing in hair care brand Hairburst, according to The Times.

The Instagram favourite beauty brand has come a long way since its humble beginnings, when co-founders James Hill, Henry Gwilliam and Matthew Cragg scrapped together their savings of £4,000 to start the business in 2014.

Since then, the brand has gained more than 800,000 followers on Instagram, as well as 21,000 on Twitter, where it helps to sell its products, and has worked with the likes of Love Island contestants and beauty influencers for its marketing campaigns.

Following the launch of its debut line of chewy hair supplements, the brand has gone on to develop shampoos and styling products, and has inked in-store deals with the biggest in beauty retail, including Holland & Barrett, Superdrug and Boots.

JD Sports has not revealed the size of the stake or the price tag; however, it is thought that the sports seller will help Hairburst acquire a selection of bolt-on businesses, as the rise of online platforms transforms the cosmetics industry.

This is not the first time Cowgill’s high flying Goliath has attempted to muscle into the beauty category.

Earlier this month, it emerged that the sports fashion brand was among ‘a small number of parties’ in talks with Gen Z beauty and fashion sensation Missguided’s boss Nitin Passi.

According to reports, JD’s proposal is thought to involve a controlling stake in the business, but this was not confirmed by the brands, and it was thought Passi would be unlikely to hand over a majority share in his multi-million pound corporation.

Meanwhile, as the market watched Debenhams’ business finally unravel, JD Sports eyed an opportunity to take over over the beleaguered British high street chain, but the company’s rescue deal was scuppered on the day Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia collapsed.

Speaking about the stake, Cowgill said: “We are pleased to have made this initial acquisition in the beauty sector and have been impressed by the capabilities of the management team, who have a strong identity and connection with millennials and Gen Z consumers.”

Hairburst’s Hill added: “With our ability to create an amazing product and market through social media, supplemented by JD’s consumer connection, financial power and global scale, we see great potential to build the Hairburst brand and acquire other brands within the sector.”

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