The team that makes Clarisonic beauty tools works in Redmond and Kent, Washington, two cities not far from Seattle. As the first step toward L’Oréal's new manufacturing plan for the Clarisonic devices, the company will lay off some 120 employees at those sites.
Yesterday L’Oréal filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the Employment Security Department in Washington State, giving formal legal notice that the lay offs will begin going in to effect on 21 November of this year; and, that they will be permanent.
By the end of next year, L’Oréal will no long manufacture the devices in-house. “Clarisonic has decided to make a gradual transition to shift its production to external manufacturing partners,” according to the company statement. “This manufacturing shift will result in reductions of 120 employees from its Redmond-based production facility over the next 15 months.”
The statement from Clarisonic suggests than new product development and engineering will not change as part of this transition: “Product innovation remains a priority for Clarisonic, with an ongoing investment in our internal research and innovation capabilities based at its global headquarters in Redmond, WA.”
While Clarisonic boasts having sold 15 million devices globally, the price point has been seen by marketers and industry commentators as a deterrent to purchase. Perhaps new manufacturing will lower the company’s cost of product and by extension the retail price, making the devices more accessible to more consumers.
It was just around this time last year that Clarisonic made another big business move: entering the men’s grooming market. Explaining that decision, Robb Akridge, co-founder of the device company, told the press, "for over a decade, Clarisonic has been loved by women and men alike. But let's face it, men's skin is different and they deserve a Clarisonic device built just for them – providing a great cleanse, a better shaving experience and a way to clean the hard-to-reach skin underneath facial hair."
The company itself got started in 2001 and began selling skin cleansing devices three years later. In 2011, L’Oréal bought Pacific Bioscience Labs, the parent company of Clarisonic. And the newly announced shift in device production strategy is just the latest step in the brand’s journey.