February 12, 2018 – Heidrick & Struggles has helped place Jan Zijderveld, president of Unilever’s European business, as the new CEO for Avon Products, the struggling beauty products company. He replaces Sheri McCoy, who announced her retirement last summer in the wake of continued losses and harsh criticism from investors.
The hiring of Mr. Zijderveld, who was also a member of the consumer goods behemoth’s executive committee, came on the heels of a group of shareholders – Barington Capital, Shah Capital and NuOrion Partners – slamming Avon for its delay in finding a new leader and neglecting the value of its shares. Replacing Ms. McCoy took six months. Avon’s stock dropped close to 90 percent during her six-year tenure, according to Reuters news service. Last year, shares fell by close to 60 percent. The activist investors had also urged Avon to look into possibly selling itself.
“On behalf of the board of directors, we are delighted to welcome Jan to Avon, who we unanimously appointed from a very strong list of seasoned global executives,” said Chan Galbato, chairman of the board of directors of Avon. “With his 30-year track record as a proven global leader, Jan has driven profitable growth in large, multi-channel, complex consumer businesses across emerging, developing and developed markets.”
“In addition, Jan’s focus on strategic and operational excellence, while putting our direct selling representatives and consumers front and center, makes him ideally suited to lead Avon,” Mr. Galbato said. “The Avon board looks forward to supporting Jan as he leads a deep and comprehensive strategic and operating review of all facets of the business and evaluates ways to significantly accelerate Avon’s path to profitable growth.”
Korn Ferry Recruits CEO for Pier 1
Korn Ferry has recruited former Kmart executive Alasdair James as president and chief executive officer of home furnishings retail company Pier 1 Imports. Past CEO Alex Smith left the company at the end of the year. Mr. James was most recently with Sears Holdings Corporation.
The Retail Sector
Retailing remains fragmented, with millions of transactions occurring in countless local outlets and over multiple channels, making competition for the consumer dollar fiercer than ever. Since 2008, Heidrick & Struggles’ retail & apparel practice has conducted more than 1,300 senior level and board director assignments for the retail, fashion and luxury goods industries. The firm serves retail and apparel clients across a broad range of functions and sectors, including multinationals, regional and local players and increasingly, private equity-backed firms.
In the past five years, 47 percent of public retail companies with revenues exceeding $1 billion experienced a chief executive change (up from 34 percent during the previous three years). Over the last decade, 71 percent of retail companies have undergone a switch in CEO. That’s good news, of course, for recruiters mining the space for search work.
“There is significant evolution, innovation and disruption in the retail market right now and both are therefore poised as growth sectors for our industry,” said Margaret Gramann, managing director and leader of the consumer and retail practices at executive search firm Harvard Group International. “The consumer experience is at the heart of business success, or decline. We need to delight them with what they want, what they need and what they, yet, don’t know they want and need. And we need to deliver an integrated experience so they have the agility to engage from home, at stores or mobile.”
Herbert Mines Associates Recruits President for Macy’s
Cincinnati-based retail giant Macy’s has named an eBay executive as its new president. The company tapped the services of New York-based retail-focused executive recruiter Herbert Mines Associates. As president, Hal Lawton will be responsible for all aspects of the Macy’s brand.
Sonia Prais, a partner in the retail, beauty & lifestyle practice group at Ward Howell International, acknowledged that retail is undergoing a challenging period. “However, those who move nimbly, truly listen to their customers, learn how to respond on a ‘real-time’ basis to their needs, give outstanding customer service, and truly offer a highly efficient and workable omni-channel experience that entertains their customers will prevail and thrive,” she said.
“E-commerce has delivered and will continue to deliver as promised, and stores that have over-saturated with ‘bricks and mortar’ will adjust,” said Ms. Prais. “Customers still want to visit actual stores but that option must be offered in conjunction with the most up-to-date technology, whether in the store, on a mobile device, in an office, or at home. The retailers who will win and thrive will be those who can offer a seamless shopping experience. Clients are hiring for e-commerce, mobile development and roles that enhance customer experience and enjoyment. That’s where we see big opportunities ahead for talent.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media