By  on March 25, 2005

NEW YORK — The Estée Lauder Cos. has scored a personnel coup and taken a step forward in its quest to restore the dominance of its flagship Lauder brand by recruiting Andrea Robinson for the new position of chief marketing officer of the iconic 59-year-old label.

Hiring Robinson, who in the last seven years at L’Oréal U.S.A. turned the Ralph Lauren brand into a fragrance powerhouse, is the second major hire that John Demsey has made in his drive to build a management dream team since taking the reins as global president of the Lauder brand on Jan. 1. Weeks after taking the job, he wooed Thia Breen from Federated Department Stores Inc. to become president of Estée Lauder North America.

“I’ve been on the job since Jan. 1 and this is my second announcement,” Demsey said, adding that there will be an unspecified third announcement. He also made it clear why he is assembling this brain trust, and it isn’t just to make the monthly sales goal.

“I’m not in the game of chasing market share for sake of market share,” Demsey said. “Clearly, the objective is to return the brand to its position of historic leadership….When you go to battle, you go with the best troops.”

The challenge is formidable. A few years ago, the Lauder brand was edged out of its number-one spot in U.S. department stores by its sister division, Clinique. Demsey maintains that globally, Lauder is the biggest prestige player, although L’Oréal’s Lancôme brand also makes that claim.

Market sources estimated that Lauder’s global sales are $3.5 billion on a retail basis, with volume distributed about equally between fragrance, skin care and color cosmetics. In the U.S. fragrance market alone, the Lauder brand has three of the top 10 women’s fragrances and one in the top 10 men’s. In the top 20 of women’s scents, Lauder has five, Demsey added.

At Lauder, Robinson will be responsible for global marketing direction for the brand, category development for fragrance, skin care and color cosmetics and helping Demsey chart the continued evolution of the Lauder franchise.

She will report to Demsey and work alongside Aerin Lauder, senior vice president of global creative directions, Estée Lauder, and the daughter of Clinique chairman Ronald Lauder. Meanwhile, Breen is in charge of developing the North American business with her own sales promotion support. Demsey described the working partnership as Breen being “a client” of Robinson’s.

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