Craggs Retires From L’Oréal USA

An Verhulst has been named Craggs’ successor at L’Oréal USA.

One of the most colorful personalities in the professional hair care world, David Craggs, the 55-year-old president of L’Oréal USA’s Professional Products Division, is retiring from the company, effective February. An Verhulst, general manager of the Professional Products Division in Brazil, has been named Craggs’ successor.

This story first appeared in the January 15, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Craggs, a 19-year employee of L’Oréal, has been one of the most talked about executives in the professional hair care world, from his sharp business acumen, to his to his no-holds-barred attitude, to his Web site — an industry first — which featured a hip photo of himself.

The lover of poodles and father of two sons who resides in Old Greenwich, Conn., with his wife, inarguably led L’Oréal on a tremendous growth path, most notably over the past several years, as he led the beauty giant into the distribution business with the acquisition of Beauty Alliance, Maly’s West and Columbia Beauty Supply in 2007 and 2008, bringing L’Oréal’s total distributor sales for the end of 2007 to over $600 million.

Fifty percent of professional product distribution is now by L’Oréal-owned distribution centers with national coverage estimated by 2012, Craggs said in a recent interview.

Craggs was the force behind several brand acquisitions, including the purchase of PureOlogy in 2007 for more than $300 million, as well as the ArtTec deal in 2002. Also during his tenure, Matrix was integrated into the PPD portfolio and expanded globally, and the Mizani brand was included in 2003.

He also oversaw the expansion of the makeup brand Shu Uemura into a hair care player and ultimately the formation of the L’Oréal Division’s Prestige Professional Brands unit. For the quarter ended Sept. 30, global sales of professional products at L’Oréal slipped 2.7 percent to 599.4 million euros, or $903 million. For the nine-month period, global professional sales were up 4.5 percent to 1.85 billion euros, or $2.3 billion. North America accounts for about 30 to 35 percent of the global company’s overall professional sales, Craggs has said.

Laurent Attal, president and chief executive officer of L’Oréal USA, stated, “Over the years, David’s expertise and unique understanding of the salon community combined with his business acumen have gained him the respect of both industry professionals and colleagues alike.”

The firm added that since joining L’Oréal USA, Craggs “significantly increased the division’s market share and, under his leadership, sales more than doubled.”

Craggs first joined the L’Oréal Group in 1990 as general manager in the U.K. for L’Oréal Coiffure, and six years later was named managing director for L’Oréal Denmark. In 1998, Craggs was promoted to managing director of L’Oréal Scandinavia before joining L’Oréal USA in 2001 as president of the PPD.

Verhulst joins the U.S. group with more than 18 years experience at the company. She began her L’Oréal career in PPD in Belgium, where she was in charge of marketing for the L’Oréal Professionnel brand. In 1998, Verhulst moved to the Division’s headquarters in Paris, where she helped to lead both L’Oréal Professionnel and Kérastase. Two years later, she was named general manager for PPD in the Netherlands.

In 2004, Verhulst was promoted to her current position as general manager of PPD for L’Oréal in Brazil, where she is responsible for the growth of Redken, the launch of Matrix, the development of professional services across all brands, as well as the establishment of L’Oréal Professionnel and Kérastase there. During her four-year tenure, sales and profits doubled, the company stated.

On Verhulst’s promotion, Attal stated, “An’s extensive knowledge of the professional salon business, her proven track record and strong leadership skills make her well suited for her new position.”