By  on February 13, 2009

Jafra Cosmetics International Inc. has chosen a new chief executive officer, Friedrich Kroos, from its own ranks.

Kroos joined the Westlake Village, Calif.-based direct seller as senior vice president of worldwide operations and business development in 2007 after 12 years at the Vorwerk & Co. KG, Jafra’s parent company, in various management positions. The native of Germany replaces Frank Mineo, the former worldwide president of Blyth-owned candles and accessories company PartyLite, who helmed Jafra for about a year before exiting last summer.

Kroos will report to Vorwerk’s executive board and is the latest of several executive appointments at Jafra. Last year, Connie Tang, formerly vice president of special markets at BeautiControl, was named president, and Janice Jackson became senior vice president and chief marketing officer following stints at Alticor, Avon Products Inc. and The Boots Co. LLC.

An early focus for Kroos will be introducing Jafra Cosmetics, which operates in 24 countries, to Asian markets. “Have a look at other direct-selling companies — they are doing incredibly well in Asia,” he said.

Kroos views the troubled world economy as a comparable advantage for Jafra. “Normally, the direct-selling business has its biggest opportunities when other industries struggle,” he said. “We offer flexible income opportunities that make people really interested.”

Kroos pointed out that Jafra recently has enlarged its sales consultant force from 500,000 to 550,000. Jafra sells 517 products globally, with $38 Elasticity Recovery Hydrogel, $42 Time Protector Day and $20 Royal Almond Oil being among the most popular in the U.S. “If confidence in our brand is given, we can turn this so-called crisis into a great opportunity for our business,” said Kroos, who added that he expects Jafra to experience growth in all its markets this year.

Annual turnover at Jafra hit nearly $593 million in 2007, the latest year for which data is available, up around 5 percent. Vorwerk, a Germany-based, family-owned household appliance direct-selling specialist that generated $3.2 billion in 2007 sales, bought Jafra in 2004 for an undisclosed sum from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc., a New York private equity firm that acquired Jafra from The Gillette Co. in 1998.

Kroos commended Vorwerk for its commitment to Jafra, signified by a $35 million investment that the parent is making in a 253,620-square-foot manufacturing facility set to open in Querétaro, Mexico, in October. “It shows the confidence from the shareholders and the management board in the expansion of this business,” he said. “It will position us well in [terms of] quality, performance and cost to be competitive in the market.”

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