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L’Oreal Names Lauren Fragrance Head

L'Oreal USA has named Signe Gammeltoft as the president of Ralph Lauren Fragrances Worldwide.

NEW YORK — L’Oreal USA has named Signe Gammeltoft as the president of Ralph Lauren Fragrances Worldwide, one of its most important businesses operating in one of the most competitive markets.

She succeeds Andrea Robinson, who previously resigned to take a top job at The Estee Lauder Cos.

Gammeltoft is a L’Oreal veteran, who ironically previously worked at Lauder. She was a brand manager in her native Denmark, then became Lauder’s general manager in China and Hong Kong. Gammeltoft joined L’Oreal in 1997 as president and managing director of L’Oreal Hong Kong, where she was credited with having made significant strides, particularly with the Luxury Products Division.

She relocated to London in 2002 to become president of L’Oreal’s Luxury Products Division in the U.K. Her new duties in New York will take effect July 1, and she will report directly to Laurent Attal, the new president and chief executive officer of L’Oreal USA.

“Over the course of her career, Signe has demonstrated great vision and expertise in the beauty industry and the luxury market,” said Jean-Paul Agon, the previous L’Oreal USA ceo, who is transferring to Paris in preparation for eventually taking the reins of the parent company. “Her track record, talent and skills clearly prove that she has the passion and the ability to develop a global beauty brand. I have every confidence that, with her team, Signe will be able to further strengthen the leadership position of the Ralph Lauren brand in the U.S. market, and to accelerate its global presence.”

Gammeltoft certainly seems ready. Reached in London Thursday, she said, “This job is a dream come true. I am very excited and honored to work with Mr. Ralph Lauren and his team, and to further develop the fragrance business of his amazing brand as we accelerate its global beauty presence.”

The company has been laying the groundwork for the expansion of the Lauren brand beyond the fragrance category. In May, Carol Pasley joined Ralph Lauren Fragrances as vice president of Ralph Lauren Beauty, with a mandate to spearhead product development and global marketing programs for new color cosmetics and men’s treatment categories. Those priorities remain on track, according to Edgar Huber, president of the Luxury Products Division at L’Oreal USA.

Timra Carlson, president of NPD Beauty, the consumer marketing firm, noted that this is a viable strategy, especially since color remains a good growth category.

According to NPD, Lauren’s volume base has frayed a bit due to the competitive frenzy in the fragrance business. But it remains a market leader, with a 9 percent share of the combined men’s and women’s fragrance category in U.S. department stores alone, which translated into 2004 sales of $260 million. That makes Lauren the number-one designer fragrance brand in U.S. department stores and second overall behind the Lauder brand fragrances.