During his opening remarks at Procter & Gamble Co.’s annual meeting with shareholders on Tuesday, reinstalled chairman, president and chief executive officer A.G. Lafley pointed to a digital clock and told those who were waiting to ask questions that they would be timed.
Since his return to P&G in May, Lafley has been racing against the clock in his own right in a bid to fix the company’s most glaring issues, including its stalled beauty business. His role at P&G is seen by Wall Street as pivotal, but also temporary and he is expected to play a central role in selecting his successor.
“It’s energizing, an honor and a privilege to be back with you today,” Lafley told shareholders. “I am convinced P&G has what it takes to grow, to deliver value and to win. We are committed to making the changes we know we need to make to improve our performance,” he added, referring to P&G’s latest earnings results as a “step in the right direction.”
For the full year, net earnings from continuing operations rose 4.6 percent to $11.3 billion, or $3.86 a diluted share, compared with $10.8 million, or $3.66 a share, a year ago. Net sales gained 1 percent to $84.2 billion, up from $83.7 billion.
The company said it expects full-year 2014 organic sales growth in the range of 3 to 4 percent.
During the meeting Lafley outlined four key areas to improve the company’s performance, namely value creation for consumers and shareholders, productivity and innovation, operating discipline and execution and improved go-to-market capabilities. Lafley emphasized his aim is to make productivity “systemic not episodic,” and said that in the past P&G has relied on restructurings every three to five years, which can be “disruptive.”
Lafley said P&G will focus on its core businesses, which include the leading, most profitable brands, categories and countries. He noted the company’s portfolio includes 25 brands each with annual sales of more than $1 billion, and 15 brands with sales within the $500 million to $1 billion range.
“We have a brand and product-innovation portfolio and pipeline that will only get stronger,” said Lafley.
He also reintroduced a focus on winning at “moments of truth” — a phrase familiar from his first tour as ceo — which he said occur when consumers research a product, again at the shelf when they select a product and later when they try it at home.
During the question-and-answer session, a number of shareholders greeted Lafley with “welcome back.” Several attendees’ questions zeroed in on P&G’s executive compensation plan, with one shareholder declaring, “We the shareholders need new methods of securing results” from executive officers. Lafley responded, “If it’s any consolation and just as a matter of interest when the board asked me to come back, I did not even ask about compensation. I’m here for duty and it’s an honor.” He added, “We try to be very clear as a company that we pay for performance and results. We try to pay fairly, and that means competitively in the marketplace.…We’re paid for supporting our business strategies. We’re paid for delivering over the mid- to long term. We’re paid not to take excess risks.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast