As an avid sailor, Jean-Paul Agon has learned from weathering past storms to keep an eye trained on the horizon.
It’s a particularly apt lesson for these times. The impressive profit and sales increases of his first two years as chief executive officer of L’Oréal were swept away by one of the worst beauty markets in decades. For 2006, profits jumped 11.9 percent to 1.83 billion euros, or $2.3 billion, on a sales gain of 8.7 percent to 15.79 billion euros, or $19.84 billion. And 2007 was another banner year. Then came 2008, when L’Oréal posted net profits that fell 26.6 percent year-on-year to 1.95 billion euros, or $2.87 billion at average exchange. The company’s full-year revenues came in at 17.54 billion euros, or $25.81 billion, up 2.8 percent. The first quarter of 2009 eked out a 0.3 percent sales gain.
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