NEW YORK — Ralph S. Mason has been appointed chief executive officer of Cradle Holdings Inc., which is the parent company of skin care brand Erno Laszlo, fragrance and accessories label Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Former ceo Robert Nielsen, who has a financial interest in the privately held company, has been named vice chairman of Cradle Holdings. Jane Terker, who held the title of president and chief operating officer, has left the company. Nielsen and Terker were the firm’s ranking executives when Cradle was founded in November 2001.

Saul A. Fox, chairman of Cradle Holdings and ceo of private equity firm Fox Paine & Co., Cradle’s principal shareholder, stated, “with Bob [Nielsen’s] continued oversight of Cradle’s evolution, we have every confidence Rip [Mason] will further Cradle’s great beginnings — given Rip’s recent success leading Jafra Cosmetics to record sales and profitability.”

Mason joined Cradle from Jafra Cosmetics International, a direct sales beauty marketer, where he spent six years, most recently as vice chairman and executive vice president. In 1998, the Gillette Co. sold Jafra to New York-based private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. This spring, Germany-based Vorwerk and Co. acquired 100 percent of the Jafra shares from CD&R, which held 84 percent, and Mason, who held an undisclosed stake.

Cradle’s brands will be overseen by three separate executives, two of whom have already been installed. As reported, Jana Reichle was appointed president and general manager worldwide of Erno Laszlo last month. Remi Clero, who joined Cradle’s French operations early last year, remains as president of L’Artisan. The search is under way for a president of Penhaligon’s, while Robert Trauber, executive vice president of finance and operations, oversees the brand on an interim basis.

Mason was eager to make the jump from a $420 million direct sales company to overseeing a firm whose brands are carried in specialty store distribution, where they reportedly generate total sales of $50 million.

“What excited me about Jafra excites me about Cradle,” Mason said during an interview Wednesday. “They are excellent brands with terrific longevity. I think the challenges will be minimal. There is a mutual desire on the part of retailers to allow the brands to flourish.”

This story first appeared in the July 16, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

You May Also Like

— Matthew W. Evans