By  on February 10, 2005

NEW YORK — An era ended on Wednesday when Jean Hoehn Zimmerman announced her departure from Chanel Inc. after 27 years with the company.

Zimmerman said she will step down in April as executive vice president of sales and marketing for fragrance and beauté in the U.S. That will be after the conclusion of the Chanel sales conference and two other major industry events — the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., and the annual FiFi awards.

“It’s time,” said Zimmerman during an interview. “I think it’s a good time to go. I have more to do with the past of the brand. Other people can take it into the future.”

The announcement came four months after Zimmerman’s boss and mentor, Arie Kopelman, stepped down as president and chief operating officer of Chanel Inc. to become vice chairman.

Maureen Chiquet, who succeeded Kopelman as president and chief operating officer of the U.S. company, lavished praise upon Zimmerman, 58, while stressing that the decision to leave was hers alone. The new Chanel chief operating officer described Zimmerman as “a prominent, innovative leader in the cosmetics industry,” who was “a driving force” in product development, promotional and long-range planning, public relations, creative strategy, corporate advertising and sales for Chanel’s U.S. fragrance and beauty sales.

Chiquet cited Zimmerman’s industry leadership record as a former president of Cosmetic Executive Women, a Fragrance Foundation board member and as an advisory board member of the Fashion Institute of Technology graduate program.

Chiquet said she will conduct a search for a successor. In the meantime, Chiquet will take on Zimmerman’s responsibilities. She reportedly took over corporate advertising and creative services from Zimmerman in November to bring the U.S. operation more in-line with Chanel’s French organization.

Zimmerman joined Chanel’s American subsidiary in 1978 as director of beauté marketing with the assignment of launching the company’s color brand in the U.S. She not only succeeded in putting Chanel on the map as a fashion color leader, but was later instrumental in the start-ups of Allure and Chance, two women’s fragrances that launched in 1996 and 2003, respectively, making their debut here before rolling out elsewhere. She also played a key role in the launch of the Precision skin care line.

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