Swisse Wellness buys back China distribution rights from P&G and Teva joint venture

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Swisse will continue to be run from its Melbourne headquarters.
Swisse will continue to be run from its Melbourne headquarters.
Swisse Wellness' parent company, H&H (Health & Happiness) Group — formerly Biostime — has bought back the vitamin firm's distribution rights from PGT Healthcare for $131m, including those for the key China market.

PGT Healthcare, a joint venture between the Procter & Gamble Company and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, earned the distribution rights in a 2013 collaboration agreement with Swisse.

This latest development saw the conclusion of their partnership, whereupon PGT returned ownership and management of all global territories to Swisse.

Under their previous collaboration, PGT successfully launched Swisse in several international markets, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Italy.

The 2013 agreement came about after Swisse hit a rough patch in its venture into the US; it gave PGT the right to market and distribute Swisse products in every country and region except Australia, New Zealand, North America and China.

The agreement also extended to the rest of Asia, as well as Europe and South America. However, there was a contractual clause involving China that gave PGT the option to have Swisse either transfer its China business to PGT, or pay PGT a sales-based royalty from 2020 onwards.

This meant the vitamin firm could have wound up surrendering half its China profits to PGT after 2020.

Reversal of fortunes

Swisse has since recovered, recently returning to the US​ after a three-year hiatus and now being "in a position to drive the business in all markets"​, according to  H&H CEO Luo Fei.

He said in an official media statement: "We are very pleased to have reached this agreement. This empowers us to sustain the development of the Swisse brand in the fast-growing China market and further expand globally.

"It will help us to achieve our vision to become a global leading player in premium nutrition and care, and supports the H&H Group in generating new business opportunities for our four brands in different markets."

PGT CEO Briain de Buitleir said, "Swisse is a very strong brand, which PGT has successfully launched and rapidly developed in several international markets across Europe and Asia.

"We are proud to have been part of the Swisse global journey and wish good luck to the H&H Group to continue to grow the Swisse brand on the international scene."

H&H bought Swisse for $1.7bn almost two years ago, amid high demand for "clean and green"​ Australian vitamins that resulted in rival Blackmores reaching a record $220 share price in January 2016.

Officially, PGT returned distribution rights for China to Swisse on 13 November; the rights for Hong Kong will be restored to Swisse on 28 February next year, and those for Singapore, the Netherlands and Italy will follow on 30 June.

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