January 26, 2021

Alberto-Culver Founder Leonard Lavin Dies at 97

Leonard Lavin, who created beauty supply firm Alberto-Culver and turned it into a billion-dollar company now owned by Unilever, died on Aug. 2 in his River Forest, Ill., home, from complications from pneumonia. He was 97.
Lavin founded Alberto Culver Co. in 1955 after borrowing money to buy Alberto V05 Hairdressing, a small, West Coast-based professional beauty supply company that was selling one product, an all-purpose hair conditioner — called Alberto V05 Hairdressing — to movie studios. He expanded the line to include more products under the V05 name, and grew the portfolio to include personal-care brands such as TREsemmé, Nexxus, St. Ives, Noxzema and Simple.
The business was sold to Unilever plc in 2011 for $3.7 billion. At the time, Alberto-Culver reported sales of $1.5 billion, employed 3,500 people and sold its products in more than 100 countries.
“Leonard’s legacy lives on in the people and brands that his life impacted. Unilever is proud to have taken over custodianship of many wonderful brands that Leonard conceived and built,” said Alan Jope, Unilever’s president of personal care. In fact, these now represent a key part of Unilever’s leading global portfolio and are going from strength to strength in countries all around the world.

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