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YSL Beauté Makeover: Barbier Takes Up Reins, Roos to Gucci Group

The moment has arrived for a changing of the guard at YSL Beauté, run for the past seven years by Chantal Roos.

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PARIS — The moment has arrived for a changing of the guard at YSL Beauté, run for the past seven years by Chantal Roos.

WWD has learned that the beauty arm of Gucci Group today will name Roos its strategic adviser for the fragrance and cosmetics industries, a new, Paris-based post reporting to Gucci Group president and chief executive officer Robert Polet.

Succeeding Roos as president and ceo of YSL Beauté will be Andrea Barbier, a L’Oréal executive with a strong track record of driving businesses to profitable growth. An Italian national, Barbier, 45, assumes the post May 2, also reporting to Polet.

A Gucci Group spokeswoman confirmed the appointments late Monday. A release is expected soon, possibly today.

Most recently, Barbier was L’Oréal’s general manager of consumer products for the Latin American market, overseeing 10 countries and a fast-growing business estimated at more than 600 million euros, or $801.9 million at current exchange. Previously, he was a general manager of Garnier-Maybelline in Italy. Barbier holds a law degree and an M.B.A. and also has held executive positions in marketing and sales at Kraft Foods Italia.

Barbier’s appointment ends a long search to succeed Roos, one of the most accomplished and high-profile executives in the industry. It is understood the search was led by Russell Reynolds Associates.

In her new role, Roos will identify and develop opportunities in beauty for the world’s third-largest luxury player. Her expanded role should help scuttle industry speculation that Gucci Group was looking to exit the beauty business.

Meanwhile, Barbier — described by one source as a “hidden jewel” within L’Oréal’s vast corporate structure — inherits a business that recently rebounded to profitable growth. Under Roos’ leadership, there has been a sharp focus on priority brands and streamlining business practices, which together have resulted in gains at YSL Beauté. Last year, revenues rose 2.6 percent to 624 million euros, or $783.9 million at average yearly exchange. Recurring operating income leaped 77.8 percent to 32 million euros, or $40.2 million, in the period. Gross margins rose sharply, plus 2 points, driven by price increases and optimized production.

Roos was at an off-site seminar on Monday and could not immediately be reached for comment. But her accomplishments are well known. During her career, Roos masterminded the creation of blockbuster fragrances for brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Issey Miyake and Jean Paul Gaultier, among others.

Roos has had two illustrious stints at YSL — once starting in 2000 and another beginning in 1976. In 2000, Chantal Roos was appointed president and managing director of Sanofi Beauté — what’s now called YSL Beauté — and includes beauty brands such as YSL, Oscar de la Renta, Boucheron, Alexander McQueen, Ermenegildo Zegna, Stella McCartney and Roger & Gallet. She has overseen the launches of YSL scents such as Nu, M7 and Cinema, as well as fragrances from other brands within the group, such as Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.

Roos began working with the designer Yves Saint Laurent in 1976 and out of that came Opium, one of the most successful designer fragrances, which went against the grain with its rich scent and provocative name and advertising. She also launched the YSL fragrances Paris, Kouros and Jazz, and YSL Beauté cosmetics, among other products.

After 15 years with YSL, Roos was recruited by Shiseido to set up a Paris-based fragrance house that would establish credibility for the Japanese cosmetics giant in the highly competitive world of French perfumery. The result was Beauté Prestige International, where Roos built from scratch successful fragrance businesses for two idiosyncratic designers.

The first project, introduced in 1992, was a women’s scent called L’Eau d’Issey, made to smell like water and created with Issey Miyake, a then-relatively unknown Japanese designer in western Europe. The massive success of L’Eau d’Issey put Miyake on the beauty map and also kicked off a major trend toward sheer scents, according to industry executives. Then, Roos parlayed Jean Paul Gaultier’s fashion theatrics into bestselling fragrances, including tin-can packaging of a corseted bust-shaped bottle.

Roos’ approach to selling, with limited distribution and no gift-with-purchase promotions, was innovative, and has since been widely imitated. Her ascent in the beauty industry has been impressive in a business dominated by men. Roos began her career in the Seventies as a marketing assistant at Coty Perfumes. She then quickly moved to Parfums YSL, where she rose up the ladder during 14 years there.

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