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Christian Dior’s Diane Miles On Road to BeneFit as CEO

NEW YORK — BeneFit Cosmetics is getting a new chief executive officer — Diane Miles, from Christian Dior Perfumes Inc., a fellow division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.<br><br>LVMH, which owns a 70 percent stake in BeneFit, has...

NEW YORK — BeneFit Cosmetics is getting a new chief executive officer — Diane Miles, from Christian Dior Perfumes Inc., a fellow division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

This story first appeared in the October 4, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

LVMH, which owns a 70 percent stake in BeneFit, has appointed Miles, who has been a senior vice president of marketing at Dior’s U.S. subsidiary, as the ceo of BeneFit, effective Oct. 28. No successor has been named for Miles at Dior.

BeneFit cofounders and twin sisters Jane Ann Ford and Jean Ann Ford acted in the past as joint ceo’s. Jane Ann Ford said Tuesday that she and her sister see Miles’ pending arrival as an opportunity for them to focus on what they consider their strongest suits: the creative end of the seven-year-old business.

“This will free Jean Ann and me up to be the co-creators we always wanted to be,” Jane Ann Ford said from her San Francisco office. “It’s not a question of her coming in to fix things, but to see what we’ve created and how it can be more efficient.” She added that Miles would take over day-to-day operations, and that BeneFit had been “canvassing for the right person” to do so for two years.

“I’m very excited,” Miles said during a phone interview in New York on Tuesday. “BeneFit is expanding and I’m being sent to work with Jane Ann and Jean Ann to take it to the next level — with the sisters being a very important part of that mix.”

The sisters share these sentiments — that Miles can bring BeneFit closer to its full potential. “BeneFit is a pretty young company, but we have made a fairly large dent for being so small,” said Jane Ann Ford. “But the front end of the business needs to be more in line with other major prestige beauty lines.”

When LVMH bought its stake in BeneFit in 1999, the firm was doing annual retail sales of about $20 million. Jane Ann Ford expects BeneFit to end this year with retail sales in excess of $90 million.

Miles will be integral to a three-year plan starting next year that’s designed to maintain consistent growth, according to Jane Ann Ford. The strategy involves reducing the expansion of BeneFit’s distribution base and focusing more on comparative-store growth. The brand is currently in 500 doors worldwide, 350 of which are in the U.S. Its biggest overseas markets include the U.K., France, Japan and Germany. The rate of new door openings is seen shrinking from 100 per year worldwide to 60 to 70 during each of the next three years. Plans also call for adding two to three freestanding BeneFit boutiques next year to four existing units, two of which are located in San Francisco. Of the other two existing shops, one is in Berkeley, Calif., and the other is in Mill Valley, Calif.

On the creative front, the sisters will be able to focus more on product development for 12 “major” launches that are planned for next year. Currently, the rollout of a new color line called Glamourette is being finalized. “Diane will bring a method to our madness,” said Jane Ann Ford.

Miles, a 12-year veteran of Dior, spent her first nine years with the LVMH division in the U.K. before relocating to New York. She introduced numerous Dior offerings, including Dior’s Addict lipstick line and Iod skin care line, both of which launched last year.

Before Dior, Miles was at L’Oréal, where she worked with the Lancôme and Biotherm brands, as well as the Vichy brand in Europe. She plans to relocate to San Francisco at the end of this month.