Update: On 12 October, an Ontario Superior Court judged ruled that Brandon Truaxe, founder of Deciem, should be removed from the company with immediate effect. Nicola Kilner has been appointed interim CEO. He has also been "forbidden from posting on the retailer's social-media channels".
"We are pleased with the court’s decision today, and will be working closely with Deciem’s leadership team to support and guide them as they resume operations and continue to provide consumers with the products that they know and love," said a spokesperson for the Estée Lauder Companies.
According to reports, the judge has also ordered an investigation into the "major criminal activity" that Truaxe claimed has taken place on his Instagram post 8 October.
The launch of The Ordinary in 2016 could not have come at a better time. Tapping into the rapid rise of interest in skincare, here was a brand that offered products containing performance ingredients (such as vitamin C and retinol) at incredibly low prices. With serums and solutions selling around the £5 mark, this was skincare that the masses could afford to buy. And we did. New launches from the brand regularly garnered waiting lists (when the brand introduced its first foundation, it racked up a waiting list of 50,000). This year, the Toronto-based Deciem brand (of which The Ordinary is part of) is reported to have a projected £228m in sales.
With shops in the US, Canada and Australia, in 2017, Deciem opened its first UK store in Spitalfields, east London. This was followed by the opening of a second in Covent Garden this year.
In June 2017, beauty conglomerate Estée Lauder Companies acquired a minority stake in Deciem. “Through its unique business model, Deciem has produced some of the most creative independent brands on the market, capturing the passion and trust of devoted fans around the world – and they are just getting started. We look forward to engaging with the team and supporting their global growth aspirations,” said Fabrizio Freda, president and CEO.
In January, Deciem founder and CEO Brandon Truaxe made headlines when he reportedly took over the brand’s social-media accounts. Posting a series of controversial messages and videos, Truaxe used the accounts to publicly broadcast the firing of employees (such as co-CEO Nicola Kilner) and sever ties with collaborators, such as plastic surgeon Tijion Esh, with whom Truaxe produced lip products. With over 370K social-media followers, Truaxe’s posts caused widespread concern over the state of his health and the future of the company.
Things came to a head on Monday, when Truaxe posted a video to the Deciem Instagram account stating that the brand’s stores would be closing for the foreseeable future. “This is the final post of Deciem... We will shut down all operations until further notice, which will be about two months. Please take me seriously,” said Truaxe, claiming that "almost everyone at Deciem has been involved in major criminal activity, which includes financial crimes".
Shortly after the video was posted, the Deciem website shut down and closures of stores were reported. According to the Retail Gazette, an email sent out to employees on 8 October from Truaxe instructs that all UK stores should close with immediate effect and re-open in 2019. Truaxe has reportedly requested that the Spitalfelds store should remain open.
On 11 October, three days after Truaxe’s email, the BBC reported that Estée Lauder Companies are currently seeking to oust founder Truaxe as co-chief executive, and temporarily replace him with Kilner (who was rehired by Truaxe over the summer). ELC are also reportedly seeking Truaxe's dismissal from Deciem's board of directors. In a statement, given to the BBC, the beauty conglomerate said: “We are deeply concerned by the material that has recently been posted on social media and will defend our rights as a minority investor." An email, seemingly from ELC lawyers, has been posted to the Deciem Instagram account, which states that they have been instructed to “commence injunction proceeding”. The case is thought to be heard in a court in Ontario, Canada, today.
For now, the future of the Deciem brand is unclear, however, The Ordinary products are currently still available on several beauty retailer’s websites, including ASOS, Cult Beauty, Feel Unique and Look Fantastic.