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NEW YORK — Edgar Huber, who has led the Luxury Products Division of L’Oréal USA since 2003, has been promoted to a senior position at the international group’s Paris headquarters. His successor here will be Valerie Chapoulaud, who has been European zone director of the division.
This story first appeared in the June 8, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Earlier this week, Huber said he would assume a senior position in charge of business development in the Luxury Products Division in Paris, reporting to Marc Menesguen, president. His new appointment will take effect Aug. 1.
Huber arrived here in early 2002 as president of Kiehl’s Since 1851, owned by L’Oréal. He moved up to his current position in September 2003 as president of the Luxury Products Division. Huber made his mark by crafting a growth strategy for Kiehl’s, both in the U.S. and overseas. When he arrived, Kiehl’s had two freestanding stores and now it has more than 60, stretching across Europe and through Asia.
Later, as president of the luxury group, he expanded that business with annual mid-single-digit increases, growing the combined volume to a formidable $1.68 million in retail sales, according to industry sources.
He created the Specialty Brands Group, based on Hudson Street in TriBeCa, which included Kiehl’s, Giorgio Armani Cosmetics and Shu Uemura — all aimed at specialty and freestanding stores. As the department store world consolidated with the merger of Federated Department Stores and May Co., Huber led a diversification of distribution with the opening of freestanding stores — five for Lancôme alone — the initiation of e-commerce business and the expansion into specialty store chains. The refocusing of the Biotherm business in the U.S. out of department stores and onto the Web as its sole American channel led to a banner month in April, and industry sources said that brand did more than $300,000 on the Internet alone for the month.
As a group, L’Oréal’s luxury brands now do 25 percent of their volume outside department stores, which had been 100 percent of the business five years ago, according to Huber. He also takes pride in having “developed more balance in the brand portfolio,” with less reliance on Lancôme’s powerhouse sales than in the past. He quotes The NPD Group in pointing out that the Giorgio Armani fragrances did only $3 million less than the combined fragrance businesses of Chanel in the U.S. last year. This spring, Armani placed three men’s fragrances in the top five and a women’s scent in the top 15.
Huber also nurtured the better business in specialty stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Prior to his stint in the U.S., Huber worked for L’Oréal in Europe, beginning in the Active Cosmetics Division in 1992 in Paris. He spent the next four years in various marketing positions in France and Germany before joining the Luxury Products Division. He relocated to London to take the helm of Lancôme before being named the general manager of the Luxury Products Division in the U.K.
His successor, Chapoulaud, joined L’Oréal in 1984 and spent her early years in financial and sales positions. She was named general manager of Biotherm in Italy in 1994, and then joined the Biotherm International development team in Paris two years later. In 2002, Chapoulaud was appointed general manager of luxury products for the Asian zone. She moved up to her current position in the European zone in 2005.
When she relocates here, she will report to Laurent Attal, L’Oréal USA president and chief executive officer.
“I definitely will miss the teams,” Huber said of his coworkers. “They are strong and professional teams with good spirit. I also will miss the professionalism of the retailers here and the American can-do spirit.”