Revlon files for bankruptcy as online beauty contest takes toll

Revlon Inc (REV.N) has filed for bankruptcy after the U.S cosmetics firm buckled under debts it built up in efforts to compete with online-focused upstarts. 

Known for its nail polishes and lipsticks, the 90-year-old company listed assets and liabilities of between $1 billion and $10 billion in a court filing on Wednesday. 

Revlon, which was formed in 1932 by brothers Charles and Joseph Revson and Charles Lachman, has in recent years lost shelf space and sales to startups backed by celebrities such as Kylie Jenner's Kylie Cosmetics and Rihanna's Fenty Beauty. 

"The brands in its portfolio are themselves a little older and do not offer the hype that the contemporary customer is looking for," Thomai Serdari, a professor of marketing at New York University, said. 

The company has also been hit by supply issues, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Resulting product shortages were another major factor in tipping it into bankruptcy and analysts have said they were unlikely to be resolved in the near-term.  

Competitor and CoverGirl owner Coty Inc (COTY.N), by contrast, has gained market share by investing heavily to improve supplies. 

"Our challenging capital structure has limited our ability to navigate macro-economic issues," said Debra Perelman, Revlon chief executive since mid-2018 and daughter of Ron Perelman, who owns its controlling shareholder MacAndrews & Forbes.