- Kimberly-Clark — the maker of Huggies, Kleenex and Kotex — on Thursday announced it acquired a majority stake in DTC period underwear brand Thinx. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- The investment will be used to support Thinx's direct-to-consumer channels as well as drive growth with Kimberly-Clark's retail partners, according to Russ Torres, group president of Kimberly-Clark's North American consumer business.
- Kimberly-Clark made an initial minority investment in Thinx in 2019.
After hitting a 12-year high last year, M&A activity in the DTC space doesn't appear to be slowing down. In 2021, 298 direct-to-consumer companies exited via acquisition, compared to 220 in 2020 and 259 in 2019, according to PitchBook data emailed to Retail Dive.
The deal with Kimberly-Clark gives Thinx access to the company's expertise and resources, including expanded distribution through its wide range of retail partners. Thinx in the past inked deals with retailers like Nordstrom and b8ta to sell its products. Last year, the company also released a more affordable line of its products at Target dubbed Thinx for All.
"Kimberly-Clark invented the 'femcare' category 100 years ago and Thinx invented the 'femtech' category nine years ago," Thinx CEO Maria Molland said in a statement. "It's fitting that we will be working more closely with a like-minded organization to realize our mission and vision, and to enable Thinx underwear to more quickly become a mainstream product for period and bladder leak needs."
Thinx, which was founded in 2013, became known for its absorbent underwear through its brands Thinx, Thinx (BTWN), Speax by Thinx and Thinx for All. The company has since expanded into other categories including activewear, which the brand launched into last year. Thinx debuted leggings, cycling shorts, leotards and training shorts featuring period-specific elements like heating pad pockets.
But it has hit a few snags along its path to growth. Thinx founder Miki Agrawal was accused of sexual harrassment and later stepped down from the role. The brand also experienced issues with its launch into extended sizing a few years ago, including problems around inadequate fit and leakage. Thinx re-entered the category last summer after enlisting Courtney Newman, who has extensive knowledge with fit including plus sizes, as its director of product design.