Newly minted Avon president Sheri McCoy made her official debut this week as part of an earnings call and a shareholders’ meeting. She said her immediate agenda includes a global tour through key markets from now through June, including the U.S., Brazil, China, Mexico and Russia.

A friend of mine, a 20-year Avon representative who has earned the prestigious President’s Club honor, hopes she also visits close to home. Getting into the trenches with the representatives can help uncover firsthand the challenges faced and provide an opportunity to understand the direct-sell channel — a different animal than McCoy’s retail heritage. My friend, we’ll call her Elle, actually lives in proximity to McCoy and has seen changes over the past three years that make her business more difficult.

Elle works hard — anyone in town will joke about her “dropping off of books” at every restaurant, health club, dry cleaner and store in town. She has a wealth of frequent customers, and she’s the first to donate baskets of Avon products to causes in town. She’s the mom with the Skin-So-Soft when the bugs invade.

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Her smooth sailing has been disrupted by changes in her shipment times and a compression of district managers. While she knows she could benefit from electronic ordering, she sticks to the hand-printed duplicate paperwork. But she’s open to learning the new digital world — with the proper training. Upon attending a product launch event with her, I was surprised just how much the representatives have to lay out, such as buying new items — not to mention the cash bar, which was a surprise to a beauty editor so often feted with free cocktails!

McCoy comes highly regarded and appears to know how much work lies ahead. Learning what it is like as an “Avon person” in the U.S. could probably prove universal in learning challenges faced across the globe. McCoy seems rooted in the real world of Avon consumers, said people who know both of the executives.

During the call earlier this week, McCoy appeared ready for the challenge.

“I am taking a fresh look at every aspect of the business, and stabilizing the business is my first and most urgent objective,” said McCoy, who joined Avon on April 23, after 30 years at Johnson & Johnson. Analysts seem pleased with her attack plan, especially once McCoy understands the peculiarities of the direct-sell channel.

That’s why Avon’s Elle is waiting for Sheri McCoy to call. 

People, Places and Things

A few words with Joe Magnacca, president of daily living products and solutions for Walgreens.

WWDBeautyNews: What’s the next big store opening for Walgreens?

Magnacca: Puerto Rico! It is a great market for us, and now we are bringing a great new store for consumers to experiment with products and actually play with beauty. We will have our expanded nails and fragrances. Fragrance is a huge market in Puerto Rico.

WWDBeautyNews: How was NACDS annual?

Magnacca: It is a great meeting for us. We had a great gathering for meeting the retailers, and we kept busy every minute from there on. Our suppliers are excited about all of the moves at Walgreens. We have many opportunities for beauty companies.

What’s In Store

Rite Aid And Revlon Partner:
Rite Aid will field run-walk teams for the Entertainment Industry Foundation Revlon Run/Walk for Women events in New York and Los Angeles, while Revlon will donate $25,000 in Rite Aid beauty product sales. The retailer also will offer Revlon coupons online and will sell exclusive nail-polish shades.

Global HBA:
This year’s Global HBA meeting celebrates 20 years of the expo. The meeting kicks off June 19 and includes a keynote presentation from Dan Brestle, chairman of the board of directors, Personal Care Products Council. W magazine’s beauty director Jane Larkworthy will host a Visionary HBA Keynote Panel and WWD Critical Mass columnist Faye Brookman will offer a roundtable on hair care.


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