NEW YORK — Victoria no longer has a secret when it comes to the succession plan for the company’s beauty businesses — and its newly minted leaders are wasting no time in revealing their plans for maintaining the category’s...
NEW YORK — Victoria no longer has a secret when it comes to the succession plan for the company’s beauty businesses — and its newly minted leaders are wasting no time in revealing their plans for maintaining the category’s forward growth.
Sherry Baker and Jill Granoff have been tapped to succeed Robin Burns, president and chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret Beauty and Intimate Beauty Corp., who, as reported on Aug. 3, has retired. Baker and Granoff are now president and chief operating officer, respectively, of Victoria’s Secret Beauty.
In their new roles, Granoff is responsible for all operational aspects of the business, including stores, finance, strategic planning, manufacturing, human resources, real estate, merchandise planning and allocation, information systems, legal and new business development. Baker’s bailiwick includes all marketing, merchandising, design, copy, visual, advertising, public relations and product development duties.
Both will report to parent company Limited Brands Inc.’s office of the chairman, comprising Leslie H. Wexner, chairman and ceo, and Leonard Schlesinger, vice chairman and chief operating officer. In a statement, Wexner said, “Both Jill and Sherry have distinguished careers in the beauty industry which include guiding prestige brands with great innovation and success. Based on their experience in the beauty industry and at Victoria’s Secret Beauty, I know they will be great leaders for the brand. We look forward to a smooth, seamless transition at Victoria’s Secret Beauty.”
The tandem appointment follows a strategy the parent company first put in place about a year and a half ago. Under that strategy, two executives — one primarily a merchant and the other chiefly an operational whiz — are groomed to take over the top slots at each of its divisions. According to a spokesperson for Limited Brands, the strategy is already in place at Express, Bath & Body Works and Limited Stores.
“We have the pleasure of directing a business that has been doing very well,” Baker told WWD on Thursday. “We have momentum in a category that hasn’t had the good fortune to grow as quickly as we have. We’re planning to continue that momentum by continuing our move to make Victoria’s Secret Beauty a total beauty destination. We’re continuing to bring in third-party lines like Pout, and we are expanding Aura Science’s skin care and color cosmetics items into additional doors.”Aura Science was developed under a joint-venture agreement between Limited Brands and Shiseido, and its products began rolling out in April 2002. While in early days the company trumpeted plans for a 500-door freestanding chain in the U.S. and an equal number of stores overseas that could do $1 billion in total, Aura Science fell short of these expectations. The company opened nine freestanding stores, which have since closed, and began experimenting with other forms of distribution for the line, including testing sales on QVC and in Victoria’s Secret Beauty stores and Bath & Body Works doors.
“We tested [Aura Science] in multiple retail formats to see which one would work best,” Granoff said. “Putting [the products] in Victoria’s Secret Beauty stores proved to allow us to develop it most effectively.” Aura Science skin care is now in about 350 Victoria’s Secret Beauty stores, while color cosmetics are in about 50. By the end of spring 2005, the range is expected to be in about 80 percent of Victoria’s Secret Beauty stores, said Granoff.
In addition, one of the duo’s first initiatives will be to “maximize our real estate possibilities,” said Granoff. “We’re right-sizing and remodeling our beauty doors,” she said, adding that in most cases, “right-sizing” will involve increasing beauty’s space in stores. “We’re also continuing to follow a model [true of the company’s Herald Square location here] of having beauty front and center in stores — since beauty is an impulse buy, it helps to drive growth,” Granoff added.
Granoff and Baker joined Victoria’s Secret Beauty within weeks of each other in spring 1999. Initially, Granoff served as chief financial and planning officer, responsible for strategic planning, finance, real estate, merchandise planning, information systems, legal and new business development. Most recently, Granoff was executive vice president and chief administrative officer. Baker joined as vice president of marketing and was promoted in 2002 to her most recent role as executive vice president, chief marketing officer, with increased responsibilities for retail marketing, marketing development, advertising, public relations and product development.
Over the past six years, under Burns’ direction, the company has seen exponential growth in its beauty businesses, with sales said to have gone from $450 million in 1998 to a projected total of $850 million by the end of this year.
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