NEW YORK — One of the Big Three will soon be without a chief.

When Pierre Rogers steps down as president of the Lancome division of Cosmair Inc. at the end of April to develop a private label line of cosmetics for Sears, Roebuck & Co., one of the cosmetics industry’s plum jobs will be open.

Lancome’s sales are exceeded only by Estee Lauder’s and Clinique’s in the U.S. department store market.

Guy Peyrelongue, president and chief executive officer of Cosmair, said the company is looking to L’Oreal’s international organization for a successor to Rogers. The successor, whose title will be general manager, will most likely come from the Parfums et Beaute Division, L’Oreal’s Paris-based prestige division.

Until a successor is named, Peyrelongue will assume responsibility for supervising Lancome and will rely on two key executives.

The first is Margaret Sharkey, deputy general manager and senior vice president of marketing and advertising. The other is Lynne Greene, who has been promoted to deputy general manager, but remains senior vice president of sales. Training has also been added to her responsibilities.

“I’m sorry to see him leave,” Peyrelongue said of Rogers. But the Cosmair chief noted that Rogers’s departure comes at a time when Lancome is strong. The brand cracked the $400 million wholesale mark last year and was 13 percent ahead for the first quarter.

Peyrelongue praised Rogers for the job he did in his four years at the helm of Lancome.

“He significantly strengthened our position in terms of sales,” Peyrelongue said, “and he helped create a good cohesion between sales and marketing.”

Allen Burke, divisional merchandise manager for cosmetics at Dayton’s, Hudson’s & Marshall Field’s, Minneapolis, said Rogers was a hands-on manager.

“He’s a very dynamic and aggressive leader,” Burke said. “He’s left very strong management in place, and I think Lancome will continue to show impressive growth at our stores.”

Allan Mottus, an industry consultant, said Rogers has Lancome “humming.”

“That company is really doing terrifically on all fronts,” said Mottus. “Pierre is sort of single-minded, and you need someone single-minded if you’re going to go up against Lauder. He’s a tough cookie.”

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Sears could use a tough cookie in its effort to shift its reentry into the cosmetics business into high gear.

As reported Thursday, the Chicago-based chain intends to launch the new private label merchandise in more than 200 stores by October 1995 and to roll it out to most of Sears’ 800 units by 1998, according to Robert L. Mettler, president of Sears’ Apparel/Home Fashions Group.

Initially, the project will consist of more than 500 stockkeeping units of treatment, makeup and fragrance, Rogers said.

Beaute Inc., the new Sears subsidiary that will develop the line, actually may produce more than one private label brand for Sears, according to Janice Page, group vice president of intimate apparel, accessories and cosmetics. Sears could, for example, offer three different brands, each with its own makeup, treatment and fragrance collection, she said.

Page noted that Sears will draw on its private label expertise from other categories, including intimate apparel, in which Sears’ market share is among the top two or three retailers in every classification.

Mettler said the price points will be above the mass market, but the line “certainly will not be regarded as prestige.”

The joint venture, which was 10 to 12 months in the making, makes Rogers president and managing director of BeautyStyle, a company that will manage Beaute.

Teaming with Rogers in BeautyStyle are Annette Golden, a veteran product development executive of Revlon and Estee Lauder, and Charles Lalanne, who was vice president of finance and chief financial officer at Yves Saint Laurent.

Arthur Martinez, chairman and chief executive officer of Sears Merchandising Group, said the chain envisions a mix of private label and national brands, which now include Revlon, L’Oreal, Frances Denney and Flori Roberts in cosmetics.

Martinez implied other national brands would be added, but declined to be more specific.

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