By  on January 23, 2008

PARIS — Changes are afoot in the upper echelons of L'Oréal. Patrick Rabain, executive vice president of the company's consumer products division, will retire at the end of February, the French beauty giant announced Monday."Patrick Rabain is clearly one of the major figures in the history of L'Oréal," said Jean-Paul Agon, the firm's chief executive officer, in a statement. "Working closely from his early days with Lindsay Owen-Jones, he has played a leading role in our company's development throughout a career entirely devoted to consumer products, driving its growth tremendously by maximizing the power of its major brands and successfully rolling them out on all continents."Rabain, who spent 34 years at L'Oréal, has held his current position since 1996. Prior to that, he worked as director of consumer products in France, director of L'Oréal Germany, director of L'Oréal United Kingdom and marketing director of L'Oréal Paris. In 1973, he started his career at the company as head of marketing studies at L'Oréal Paris.Jean-Jacques Lebel, executive vice president of professional products, will succeed Rabain."The career of Jean-Jacques Lebel has been exceptional," continued Agon. "In his six years at the professional products division, he has strongly developed and modernized the division, which, under his leadership, has considerably accelerated its growth, increasing the lead it enjoys over its competitors. L'Oréal is today, more than ever before, world number one. Through his outstanding personal qualities, the richness of his experience and the exemplary success of his career, Jean-Jacques Lebel is a completely legitimate successor to Patrick Rabain."Lebel became executive vice president of professional products in 2001. Before that, he was managing director of the Latin America zone, director of L'Oréal United Kingdom, managing director of Laboratoires Garnier France and managing director of L'Oréal Paris in Great Britain. He joined L'Oréal in 1981.Nicolas Hiéronimus replaces Lebel as executive vice president of consumer products. Between 2005 and 2007, Hiéronimus headed L'Oréal Mexico. In 2000, he was appointed L'Oréal Paris' first international managing director. He also served as managing director of L'Oréal Paris France, managing director of Garnier/Maybelline in Great Britain and marketing director of Laboratoires Garnier in France. He began his career at L'Oréal in Garnier and Gemey-Maybelline's marketing department."Nicolas Hiéronimus has already had a formidably successful 21-year career at L'Oréal, during which he has demonstrated not only outstanding management skills and leadership, but also great qualities of strategic vision and innovative thinking," said Agon.In other company news, between 2009 and 2013, L'Oréal will renovate its headquarters in the Paris suburb of Clichy. The 5-acre site is to be designed by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte around a large garden area.— Jennifer WeilFranck Provost in Salon BuyPARIS — Franck Provost Salon Group has agreed to buy the Groupe Saint-Karl hair salon chain, sources close to the deal said Tuesday.Spokeswomen from the two Paris-based companies declined to comment Tuesday.Privately owned Saint-Karl operates 170 doors, including 140 in France, of which 35 are franchised; 20 in Portugal, of which 12 are franchised, and four wholly owned salons in Spain and Switzerland. The company, which was founded in 1983, generated around 18 million euros, or $24.7 million at average exchange, in 2007 sales, according to industry sources.The deal between Franck Provost and Saint-Karl, whose terms could not be learned, is expected to be finalized in April.Franck Provost's latest buy follows close on the heels of its October acquisition of the Jean-Louis David and Saint-Algue operations of Regis Corp. At that time, Franck Provost, founder and chairman of his namesake firm, claimed the buy, when it's cleared this month as expected, will make Franck Provost Salon Group Europe's largest hair salon company. Provost also said other acquisitions are in the cards.The Franck Provost Salon Group, founded in 1975, generated sales of 220 million euros, or $302 million, last year.— Ellen GrovesUnilever Promotes GeorgeNEW YORK — Unilever U.S. has named Kevin B. George vice president and general manager of the company's antiperspirant, deodorant and hair care business. Prior to the appointment, George was vice president and general manager of the company's deodorant business. "Kevin George has been very successful at leading the growth of Unilever's U.S. deodorant business," Kevin Havelock, president of Unilever U.S., said in a statement. "His appointment to head the combined [antiperspirant, deodorant and hair care] business team is well deserved and reflects our confidence in his leadership, business acumen and brand-management experience." The business unit includes brands like Axe, Degree, Suave, Dove and Sunsilk.

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