Board moves to safeguard Molton Brown

LUXURY skincare firm Molton Brown has moved to break off deals with key contractors who threaten to jeopardise its upmarket reputation.

Parent company Kao Prestige has highlighted concerns over the behaviour of firms which could damage Molton Brown’s “brand value”.

“This could be caused by poor quality products, poor customer service or inappropriate sales channel selection. The group takes great care to ensure that any such incidents are kept to a minimum, and has implemented measures to end trading relationships with partners which are not considered to be an appropriate match,” the directors wrote in the 2010 accounts.

They also warn against relying on the UK retail sector and say they have “taken steps” to limit the risk should the spending slump continue.

Molton Brown, which said no-one was available to comment, makes men’s and women’s toiletries and fragrances and is popular with celebrities, including Bruce Springsteen.

It was founded in Mayfair in 1973 and was for a period owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital, which sold it to Japan’s Kao Corporation for £170m in 2005.

Kao cut annual operating losses by 49 per cent to £2.62m last year. Turnover was flat at just below £66m.

The directors described the operating loss as the “short term impact” of investment in its infrastructure and brand and stress the need to grow overseas sales.