Politics even crept into the normally feel-good mood of Estée Lauder’s annual meeting in Manhattan Friday.
During the Q&A period, which was dotted with usual testimonials and congratulations from stockholders, one investor asked how the company will fare under the new administration in Washington, D.C. William P. Lauder, executive chairman, replied, “The best way to look at it is the United States has been one of the most dynamic [countries] for more than a century and a half. That is not based on any one single policy, set by any one president at any one time in our history. It is really based on the dynamism of the people who drive our economy everyday and I don’t expect that will change anytime in our lifetime and I hope in our grandchildren’s lifetime.”
The crowd laughed and he seemed a bit warier when another investor asked how the world of glamour and beauty would be affected by a new first lady in the White House. But Lauder stepped up. “If history is any indication, the first two years of a new first lady’s presence in the White House has a knock-on effect to all of the designers other things that they enjoy, it has a great following, and we certainly expect it will be the same thing, and you know what, we hope that everybody follows their own personal style for beauty and glamour. There is no one style. That is why we have a multiplicity of brands. That’s why we succeed around the world the way we do.”
The mood turned more businesslike when a stockholder asked what impact there has been from the U.K.’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union. Fabrizio Freda, president and chief executive officer, replied, “In the last quarter what we saw was an increase in tourists because of the [depressed] currency in the U.K. We obviously had been penalized by the currency situation. We don’t see Brexit as especially a risk,” he said, adding that it could be an opportunity if the crowds of tourists continue to swell.