Unilever has agreed to acquire a British skincare brand as it seeks to expand its range of personal care products.

REN Skincare, founded in 2000 by Antony Buck and Robert Calcraft, is a niche brand based on natural ingredients which is sold predominantly in specialty stores and pharmacies in 50 countries around the world. In the UK, the range is found in John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and ASOS, but the majority of the group’s revenue is generated overseas.

Unilever, which owns Persil, Dove and Lynx, has been divesting of some of its food brands in recent years to concentrate on the personal care division. The company is aiming for personal care goods to make up more than 65% of its portfolio – up from almost 40% currently.

An investor survey by broker Berstein this week called for Unilever to sell its underperforming Flora margarines business and buy more personal care companies.

“It is a brand with an incredibly loyal following, with a unique proposition that no doubt gives it potential for even further growth, especially given that the naturals category is one of the fastest growing in skincare globally,” said Vasiliki Petrou, Unilever senior vice-president of prestige brands. “Its premium positioning complements well our existing portfolio.”

REN CEO Antony Buck added that after 15 years it was time for the brand to go to the “next level”.

“Unilever is a great company with great principles,” he said. “It has a profound understanding of brands and global reach and it makes the perfect partner to help REN fulfil its future potential worldwide. We can’t wait to get started.”

The acquisition is expected to close in May, subject to regulatory approvals.