Lauder Taps Supply Chain Executive

Gregory Polcer will oversee Lauder's "end-to-end supply chain," the firm said.

The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. has recruited Gregory Polcer as executive vice president-global supply chain in a bid to sharpen the beauty conglomerate’s execution capabilities.

This story first appeared in the August 21, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

It also is the first key personnel addition made since the official arrival of Fabrizio Freda as president and chief operating officer in early March.

Polcer, 53, who previously was senior vice president of supply chain at Unilever, will oversee Lauder’s “end-to-end supply chain,” according to the company, including procurement, manufacturing, quality assurance and logistics. His appointment was effective July 31 and he reports to Freda.

Polcer is succeeding Malcolm Bond, who joined Lauder in 1995 and, as previously announced, is beginning a process leading to his eventual retirement as executive vice president of global operations. Polcer is also assuming some of the duties previously performed by the late Roger Caracappa, who died a month ago. Caracappa’s title was executive vice president of global packaging, quality assurance, store development, design and merchandising for the Estée Lauder Cos.

In announcing Polcer’s appointment, Lauder credited Polcer with having spearheaded a corporate initiative at Unilever to define the process and project plan for creating a corporate-wide procurement capability. Prior to Unilever, Polcer was with Playtex Inc. and J.C. Penney.

During an earnings call to Wall Street analysts last week, Freda, who is expected to move up to chief executive officer within two years, said the company’s goal is to generate sustainable and profitable growth by taking a disciplined financial approach by reducing inventories, pruning stockkeeping units and more closely linking employee compensation with performance goals.

During the same call, Rick Kunes, Lauder’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said, “There are certainly opportunities that will manifest themselves in improved gross margin by being better at what we do, by being more efficient in our supply chain, by having less points of distribution, therefore less inventory, therefore more efficient and less waste in the process.”

Kunes also said, “We are developing the capabilities and the incentives to reduce inventory and sku’s in the years to come. Our goal is to increase inventory turns from twice to three times per year over the course of the next several years.”

Freda was not available for comment Wednesday, but in announcing the appointment, he stated: “Greg’s unique combination of supply chain, finance and category management experience will be invaluable as we increase efficiencies and enhance our operating effectiveness. I am confident that Greg will be a key contributor in improving our global processes to help [Lauder] execute its long-term strategy to deliver sustained, profitable growth.”

In a letter to employees, Freda said that Polcer will sit on Lauder’s executive committee and “will be responsible for the Global Direct and Indirect Procurement functions and ultimately develop the role of global chief procurement officer reporting directly to him.”

After identifying six top executives who will report to Polcer, Freda continued: “A seasoned business leader with deep and broad supply chain expertise, Greg also has proven his ability to create and develop strong teams.”