By  on March 10, 2006

NEW YORK — Soon Andrea Jung may be one of the busiest women in the beauty business.

The Avon chairman and chief executive officer's second-in-command, Susan J. Kropf, will retire this summer, following a 35-year career with the direct seller, and Jung will shoulder her duties.

In keeping with Avon's ongoing effort to consolidate top management, the company will not fill Kropf's position as president and chief operating officer. Jung will assume those responsibilities.

Avon said Kropf, 57, will step down July 1 and will retire from the company at the end of the year.

Following her departure, Jung will have more day-to-day oversight of the beauty firm. In December, the company announced a global reorganization that called for all business units and support functions to report to the "office of the chairman," a new post shared by Jung and Kropf.

With Kropf's retirement, Jung will oversee the leaders of 12 global business units, each of whom will take on broader responsibilities.

Since the announcement of its restructuring effort, the beauty firm has compressed its management team from 15 layers to "seven or eight" in part of its effort to eliminate 20 percent to 30 percent of senior and middle management by yearend, Jung said in a conference call with analysts two weeks ago.

Jung, who referred to her colleague Kropf as a "trusted business partner" in a statement Thursday, added, "Susan has made countless important contributions during her remarkable 35-year career at Avon, which has spanned virtually every area of the business."

Kropf said in a statement, "Looking back, I am very proud of Avon's extraordinary business growth over the years, as we have evolved from a smaller, more entrepreneurial company to a true global business of scale."

Kropf became president and chief operating officer in January 2001, and in that role oversaw the company's daily global operations. Prior to occupying the number-two post, she was executive vice president and chief operating officer for Avon North America and Global Business Operations.

Kropf also is on Avon's board, but will not stand for reelection at the company's annual meeting of shareholders, scheduled for May 4.She is a member of Cosmetic Executive Women, and this year will be honored with CEW's lifetime achievement award.

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