BERLIN — Dr. Heiner Gurtler, group president of Procter & Gamble’s new Global Prestige and Professional Care business unit and chief executive officer of Wella AG, is stepping down from these positions as of Oct. 1, 2005.

The 63-year-old Gurtler is retiring, according to a release from Wella. An 11-year veteran of the German hair care giant and Wella ceo since 2000, Gurtler was instrumental in maintaining order — and growth — during the turbulent period before and after P&G’s acquisition of the Darmstadt-based hair care company in 2003. Under his leadership, the global professional business of Wella, Clairol, Prestige Beaute Fine Fragrances and Wella Cosmopolitan Cosmetics were combined under the recently structured P&G Global Prestige and Professional Care unit.

Gurtler’s successor as Wella ceo has not yet been named, and “will be appointed by the Wella Supervisory Board in due course,” the company said. Effective Oct. 1, 2005, Gurtler’s responsibilities as P&G group president for Prestige and Professional Care will be assumed by Susan Arnold, P&G vice chairman (Cincinnati); Hartwig Langer, P&G president-Global Prestige Products (Geneva), and Carsten Fischer, P&G president-Global Professional Care (Darmstadt). Gurtler will continue to report to P&G board chairman A. G. Lafley as “P&G group president on special assignment” through June 30, 2006.

Wall Street was not surprised by the announcement.

“My understanding is that he had a three-year agreement from the day of integration. This comes a year earlier than anticipated; however, I believe P&G has probably the best management team in all of consumer products. I have a high degree of confidence in Susan Arnold,” said Jason Gere of brokerage firm A.G. Edwards & Sons.

During his tenure at Wella and as long-term president of Cosmopolitan Cosmetics, Gurtler was the motor behind Cosmopolitan’s development into a $1 billion player in the international perfume market.

In an official statement Gurtler said, “All through our partnership with P&G it was important to me to ensure we have a framework that will further accelerate our business development while providing the best possible opportunities for our employees. Now that we have achieved that, I feel the time is right for me to hand over our operations to the next generations of leaders, in whom I have full confidence.”

This story first appeared in the June 30, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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