NEW YORK — In his first major personnel decision as president and chief executive officer, William Lauder has named Dan Brestle as the new chief operating officer of The Estée Lauder Cos., a move expected to put greater emphasis on teamwork. The appointment will take effect Jan. 1.
In explaining why he chose Brestle, a 25-year Lauder veteran and group president, Lauder cited, during an interview, his brand-building and organizational leadership, then singled out his consensus and team-building skills. He marveled over Brestle’s knack “for getting people to stand in front of a train for him.”
In an earlier statement, Lauder noted, “Dan has demonstrated his expertise and leadership on many fronts, including branding, sales and operations.” Lauder added that he “is a steadfast employee advocate, an exceptional talent developer and a trusted adviser.”
The 44-year-old ceo said Brestle, 59, also provides “a nice intergenerational bridge between my father and myself.” Lauder was referring to Leonard Lauder, 71, a previous ceo who remains chairman.
Brestle’s appointment coincides with a realignment of responsibilities for two other group presidents, Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne and Philip Shearer. Under the new configuration, each executive will be charged with tasks of running operational divisions and entrusted to handle broad responsibilities that run across the corporate structure.
Traditionally, the company has been run by two-man teams with the chief operating officer playing an operational role. Previously, Lauder was paired with the now-retired ceo Fred Langhammer, and prior to that, Langhammer had worked with the elder Lauder.
Brestle will also play a classic operational role in addition to overseeing global operations, headed by Malcolm Bond, and research and development, led by Harvey Gedeon. Also reporting to Brestle will be John Demsey, head of the flagship Estée Lauder and MAC Cosmetics divisions; Lynne Greene, president of the specialty brands — Prescriptives, Jo Malone, La Mer and Kate Spade, and Jane Hudis, the recently named president of BeautyBank.
Group president Bousquet-Chavanne has gained a strategic mandate to look for new business opportunities across Europe and Asia, both in existing channels of distribution and in alternative territory. “I am pleased that Patrick will devote his vast entrepreneurial talents, his creativity and his incredible drive to capturing these revenue opportunities while continuing to lead the Aramis and Designer Fragrances group,” Lauder stated, adding that Bousquet-Chavanne will oversee Bobbi Brown, Stila, Darphin and Rodan + Fields.Lauder said putting Bousquet-Chavanne in charge of pursuing acquisitions is a key adjustment. Previously, acquisitions would be targeted by a senior executive, then “tossed into the lap of an operational executive, who was told ‘now make it work.’ Now we are going to make that process vertical,” he said, pointing out that Bousquet-Chavanne will be in charge of the whole show, from pinpointing targets in Europe and Asia to making the new acquisitions function. Like Shearer, Bousquet-Chavanne acquired responsibility for divisions previously overseen by Brestle — Stila, Bobbi Brown, Darphin and Rodan + Fields. In turn, Brestle acquired the Lauder and MAC divisions from Bousquet-Chavanne.
Group president Philip Shearer gained responsibility from Brestle for the two hair divisions, Aveda and Bumble and bumble, which Lauder previously had singled out as being in the forefront of the company’s growth potential. In addition, he will continue to oversee Clinique, Lauder’s biggest brand; Origins, and the Online division. “Philip’s long experience in a multichannel organization gives him a unique view on managing disparate categories within an overall portfolio, a skill that will become an increasingly important part of our corporate strategy,” Lauder stated.
Brestle and the two group presidents will continue to report to Lauder, as will Cedric Prouvé, the group president who oversees international.
Brestle said Lauder’s grand plan is something that he “passionately believes in and is looking forward to doing.” Brestle added he also has been asked to function as “point person for domestic retailers, when they have issues.”
Asked why he gave his executive both operational and corporate responsibilities, Lauder replied that “we already have a great team and we want to encourage more teamwork.” Lauder added that he “believes in the collective management approach, where success is not based on one individual.” Lauder took the helm as ceo on July 1 and has run the corporation since then without the help of a chief operating officer. Asked if he had considered not filling the post, Lauder quickly replied, “I did it for six months and I would like to live for another six months.” — Pete Born
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