PARIS — It was a historic L’Oréal annual general meeting on Friday, since afterward Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones would step down as company honorary chairman.
This story first appeared in the April 29, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
He served as the French beauty giant’s chief executive officer from 1988 to 2006, and was on its board for three decades.
Owen-Jones sat in the front row of an auditorium in Paris’ Palais des Congrès along with other board members, including Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the granddaughter of L’Oréal’s founder, Eugène Schueller, and her son Jean-Victor Meyers.
L’Oréal chairman and ceo Jean-Paul Agon paid tribute to Owen-Jones early in the three-hour-long session. Agon thanked “the person who’s left such a strong imprint on the company.
“He built up L’Oréal to be the great company that it is today, as dreamed by Eugène Schueller and [former chairman] François Dalle,” continued Agon. “It’s a French company that he then turned into a European and then a global company operating on all continents. He’s the architect behind the concept of an international portfolio of brands.
“He’s the visionary who drove L’Oréal to globalization and to be a good corporate citizen,” added Agon. “He’s left a lasting mark on L’Oréal.”
Agon discussed the stellar track record of “O.J.” (referring to Owen-Jones by nickname), saying that during his term, company “sales multiplied by six, earnings per share by 14, the stock-market price by 16 and the dividend per share by 35, which is pretty outstanding.
“I’d also like to express my personal gratitude to him for the exemplary manner in which he passed on management responsibilities when I came to the helm of this wonderful ship L’Oréal,” said Agon.
He finished his homage by quoting what Dalle imparted when Owen-Jones was appointed company ceo: “‘Dear O.J., at the end of your career you will be proud of what you will have accomplished.’ I am sure we all realize today how right he was.”
At the meeting’s end, Virginie Morgon, chief investment officer and member of the executive board of Eurazeo, was voted in as a L’Oréal board member. Meanwhile, Bettencourt Meyers, Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe and former Renault ceo Louis Schweitzer had their tenures renewed.