As Wall Street waits — with increasing impatience — for Avon Products Inc. to name a new chief executive officer, more names have surfaced as potential candidates for the top job.
The din surrounding Avon’s search has also prompted several people who were once thought to be lead contenders to distance themselves from the post. HSN Inc.’s ceo Mindy Grossman, former Procter & Gamble Co. executive Ed Shirley and, most recently, Susan Arnold, also a P&G alum, have all declared that they are not pursuing the corner office at the beleaguered direct seller.
In an e-mail sent to WWD earlier this week, Arnold said, “I am not considering the Avon ceo position,” adding that she is “not interested in taking on this kind of challenge at this time.”
Investors have quickly moved on to naming other favorites for the job, including a string of veteran ceo’s from outside the beauty industry. They include Dawn Hudson, the former ceo of PepsiCo’s North American business; Carlos Gutierrez, the former ceo of Kellogg Co. and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under the administration of President George W. Bush, and William Perez, the former president and ceo of Nike Inc. and of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. Perez has served on Johnson & Johnson’s board since 2007, and is a senior adviser for the investment banking firm Greenhill & Co.
Investors have focused much of their attention on Hudson, who currently is vice chairman, head of consumer practice at The Parthenon Group, a business consultancy. Adding to their interest is Hudson’s link to Avon board member Gary Rodkin. Both Hudson and Rodkin have held senior posts at PepsiCo North America. Prior to joining ConAgra as ceo in October 2005, Rodkin was chairman and ceo of PepsiCo Beverages and Foods North America.
Gutierrez, for his part, is touted for his prowess at building higher-margin consumer product brands, including the Special K and Kashi cereal businesses.
Avon has said little about the progress of its search for a ceo to replace the embattled Andrea Jung, but Wall Street analysts expect a decision prior to the company’s shareholders’ meeting in early May.
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