Smashbox Exits U.K. and Ireland

Smashbox, the Los Angeles-born cosmetics brand best known for its primers, is pulling out of the U.K. and Ireland, a key beauty market.

“An accumulation of challenges has sadly been more than our business can withstand and we’ve had to make the heart-breaking decision to no longer accept orders in the U.K. and Ireland beginning September 29, 2022. We’ve loved being a part of your creativity and expression and we’re forever grateful,” it posted on Twitter Wednesday.

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A spokesperson for owner The Estée Lauder Cos. added that over recent years, Smashbox’s UK sales have been “impacted by changes in the brand’s retail space and location, combined with competitive challenges,” but stressed that it will continue to sell in various other markets around the world.

Over the course of the pandemic, Lauder has scaled back or closed multiple brands, including Deciem, which narrowed its brand assortment, and Becca and Rodin Olio Lusso, which were both shut down.

Smashbox was founded in L.A. in the mid-’90s by brothers Dean and Davis Factor, great-grandsons of Hollywood makeup artist Max Factor, out of their photo studio. It was acquired by Lauder in 2010 as part of a plan to expand into specialty retail shops, like Sephora. At the time, sources estimated that the purchase price was between $200 million and $300 million.

Until recently, it was under the group of brands run by John Demsey, one of the highest-ranking executives at Lauder, who was asked to leave the business earlier this year after he posted a meme on Instagram that contained a racial slur and joke about COVID-19. Demsey also oversaw MAC, Clinique, Too Faced, Glamglow and Tom Ford Beauty.

In February, Smashbox president Glenn Evans told WWD that the brand had been looking to advance its product offerings, beginning with the primer category, in order to adjust to an increasingly educated consumer, while ramping up its digital marketing efforts.

It also launched a collection with Becca Cosmetics, Smashbox Hearts Becca, but in February Lauder announced that it was shuttering Becca, which it acquired in 2016. The move was part of Lauder’s Post-COVID[-19] Business Acceleration program, which included shutting down underperforming retail locations, counters in travel retail and Latin America, and other initiatives.

It’s not known if the decision for Smashbox to exit the U.K. and Ireland was part of the same initiative.

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