Sheri McCoy Talks Turnaround Attempt at Avon

It’s all hands on deck as the direct seller makes a run at a turnaround.

Sheri McCoy

It’s all hands on deck at Avon Products Inc. as the direct seller makes a run at a turnaround.

This story first appeared in the May 23, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“We need every single person in the company aligned around how we’re going to transform the company,” Sheri McCoy, Avon’s chief executive officer, told attendees at the summit.

McCoy aims to restore what she sees as the essence of the brand. “It is an iconic brand that really marries beauty with a channel of representatives that empowers women,” she said.

She’s presented a strategic framework melding growth, simplification, efficiency and organizational effectiveness — along with Avon’s advances in technology and research and development — to reinvigorate the brand. “Success to me, and what I see two years into it, is it’s small things, but it’s the important things. It’s when I go and visit the markets and people are talking about the representative and what [he or she] is doing to make a difference in people’s life,” said McCoy.

In the U.S., Avon is looking to modernize direct selling in a way that keeps representatives secure and energized with an attractive earnings potential. While retaining the Avon heritage, she is also is open to new ideas. “We also need to have a culture that allows fresh thinking and say ‘Yes, we can go online, we don’t have to do everything face-to-face or door-to-door,’” said McCoy.

Although Avon is facing challenges in the U.S., McCoy said walking away from the market “doesn’t make sense.” That’s not to say, however, there aren’t opportunities in the rest of the world where Avon generates 85 percent of its business. She’s also keen on expanding the brand and channel through partnerships, such as the recent distribution deals with Korres and Coty.

“Wall Street is frustrated, rightly so, because we aren’t growing and we have some profitability challenges. If we look at the growth, it’s all coming outside the U.S. But our goal is to get the U.S. stable, look at how we learn from that because it is a developed market and we need to understand direct selling in a developed market.”