L’Oréal chief executive officer Jean-Paul Agon is slated to add the title of chairman effective next month.

L’Oréal, Jean-Paul Agon, chief executive officer, chairman, Lindsay Owen-Jones, CEO, cosmetics, beauty care, global beauty company, cosmetics market

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L’Oréal CEO Agon to become chairman

February 14th, 2011

PARIS – L’Oréal chief executive officer Jean-Paul Agon is slated to add the title of chairman effective next month.

The cosmetics and beauty care giant announced that Agon will succeed chairman Lindsay Owen-Jones, who will resign to become honorary chairman. Plans call for the transfer of responsibilities to take place by mid-March, according to the company, which said Owen-Jones will continue to be a L’Oréal director as well as chairman of the L’Oréal Foundation.

Owen-Jones, who will turn 65 on March 17, has been given credit for changing L’Oréal from a French exporter into the top global beauty company. He diversified the company’s brands, distribution channels and markets, linking mass brands to prestige and salon products.

Agon, 54, has used Owen-Jones’ strategy as a springboard for L’Oréal’s entry into emerging markets. Since being named CEO just under four years ago, he has focused on developing markets, driving volume from Brazil to Pakistan, and the Philippines to Egypt.

With Owen-Jones having been at L’Oréal for 42 years — the last 23 as chairman — the transition marks the beginning of a new chapter at the company.

“L’Oréal has entered a new phase in its history: the universalization of beauty,” Agon said in a statement. “We have all the resources for this new conquest, as we continue the great L’Oréal adventure.”

The succession comes with L’Oréal flourishing. The company reported full-year sales climbed 11.6% to $25.9 billion. On a like-for-like basis, volume climbed 5.6%. Net profit soared 25% to $2.98 billion.

“In the context of an upturn in the cosmetics market, L’Oréal achieved strong sales growth,” Agon commented. “The group advanced in all zones, all channels and all business segments. More dynamic than the market, it bolstered its position as the world No. 1 in beauty.”

Last year was one of “conquests for the group,” with several brands achieving “spectacular breakthroughs,” he noted, citing Maybelline in mass-market makeup and La Roche-Posay with continuing expansion.

“The group is growing in Western Europe, clearly improving its positions in North America and continuing its conquest of the new strategic markets, particularly in Asia and Latin America,” Agon added.

L’Oréal China last year became the group’s No. 3 cosmetics subsidiary, with sales of more than 1 billion euros, he pointed out. “These performances confirm the relevance of the strategic thrusts adopted at the end of 2008: accessible innovation, new product categories, accelerated globalization of our brands, and strengthening of our R&D and advertising and promotional investments.”

The company is “well-prepared to seize all strategic opportunities, and driven by the ambition of winning a further 1 billion new consumers,” he added.

Owen-Jones stated, “With this level of growth and results, the group produced a good performance in 2010. Thanks to their drive and imagination, Jean-Paul Agon and his teams have succeeded in opening up new areas for growth and profitability, which are also paving the way for the future.”