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PARIS — There’s a new generation of leadership at Beiersdorf as Rolf Kunisch and Uwe Wolfer are set to retire.

Beiersdorf announced Thursday that Thomas-Bernd Quaas, 52, board member of Beiersdorf’s supply chain business, is to replace chief executive officer Kunisch, 63, on May 18. Pietr Nota, 40, a marketing manager at Unilever, will take over the brand, marketing and sales post held by Wolfer, 61, on May 1. Wolfer is also a member of Beiersdorf’s executive board.

“Rolf Kunisch and Uwe Wolfer significantly shaped the success of Beiersdorf in the last decade,” the company said in a statement.

Indeed, Kunisch has been credited with leading Beiersdorf during a period of considerable international growth. He also succeeded in keeping the company independent through some years of takeover turmoil and a shaky shareholder structure.

Two years ago, Kunisch was asked to put off his scheduled retirement until now. That request came when Beiersdorf needed stability, right after a consortium led by Tchibo — then a minority Beiersdorf shareholder — bought Allianz’s 40 percent stake in the firm. This move secured Beiersdorf’s independence from would-be suitors such as Procter & Gamble.

Beiersdorf expects to propose that Kunisch be elected to the company’s supervisory board at its annual general meeting, it said in the statement. 

Wolfer, who has worked at Beiersdorf since 1987, has been lauded for having achieved a leading position for the company’s major brands. Its cash cow, Nivea, for instance, posted sales that nearly quintupled between 1990 and 2002 — when they grew from 545 million euros, or $706.5 million at current exchange, to 2.6 billion euros, or $3.4 billion.

His retirement confirms an earlier report in these pages.

In other company news, Markus Pinger, general manager of Beiersdorf Nordics, will take over supply chain responsibilities April 1.

As reported, the Beiersdorf Group achieved a 5.5 percent increase in 2004 operating income and a 2.5 percent sales gain last year, according to preliminary figures. Earnings before interest and taxes reached 480 million euros, or $596.9 million at average exchange. Profits after taxes neared 300 million euros, or $373.1 million, a decline of about 1 percent year-on-year.

This story first appeared in the January 21, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.