Ralph S. Mason

NEW YORK — Despite multiple reshufflings of executives at the company since the summer, Cradle Holdings’ chief executive officer Ralph S. Mason claims the firm is poised for growth. It operates three beauty brands: the Erno Laszlo skin...

NEW YORK — Despite multiple reshufflings of executives at the company since the summer, Cradle Holdings’ chief executive officer Ralph S. Mason claims the firm is poised for growth. It operates three beauty brands: the Erno Laszlo skin care business, Penhaligon’s fragrances and accessories and L’Artisan Parfumeur.

“Cradle is making a significant investment this year and next year in products and in [store] doors,” Mason, who joined Cradle three months ago from California-based Jafra Cosmetics, said in an interview Thursday. He added that this “includes an expanded presence in our wholesale accounts across the brand as well as in stand-alone retail doors.”

He characterized a recent raft of upper-management changes as “additional realignments to support the company for growth.”

Top management changes, which were announced in July, affected two of the firm’s ranking and founding executives. Robert Nielsen was named vice chairman. Separately, Jane Terker, who was president and chief operating officer, left the company.

At the time, Jana Reichle was appointed president of Laszlo. But, about a month ago, she “departed” the company, Cradle stated. The firm also said another executive, Lauren Freedman, Cradle’s vice president of marketing, exited last Friday.

Meanwhile, Alan Fearnley, a 30-year-veteran of the cosmetics industry, Cradle noted, joined the firm in August as its worldwide chief operating officer and chief marketing officer. He formerly was chief marketing officer of Jafra, a $420 million direct marketing beauty firm that was acquired earlier this year by Germany-based Vorwerk.

Additionally, on the product front, at least one item under the firm’s upscale Laszlo brand reportedly had formulation problems that translated, sources indicated, into customer and, in turn, retailer dissatisfaction. Addressing reports about it, Mason said, “product returns have been addressed.”

Mason reiterated growth plans by breaking out a number of freestanding store openings under Cradle’s brands. These include L’Artisan’s first U.S. store, at a SoHo location for which an agreement was recently signed. Also, a Las Vegas stand-alone store opening is planned for the Penhaligon’s brand next month. Internationally, a Laszlo institute is on the slate for this year for Majestic Barrière, the hotel in Cannes.

This story first appeared in the October 4, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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According to industry sources, Cradle’s annual net revenues are roughly $50 million. Its principal backer is private equity firm Fox Paine & Co.

— Matthew W. Evans