With the appointment of Jean Mortier as president of Coty Prestige, the parent company took another major step Wednesday in bolstering its bench strength in preparation for a planned initial public offering, which reportedly has been rescheduled for next spring.
This story first appeared in the September 20, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Mortier succeeds Michele Scannavini, who was named chief executive officer in late July when former ceo Bernd Beetz disclosed that he was passing the torch to his “right arm.” Although Beetz, one of the leaders of the global fragrance industry, stepped down, he remains on the Coty board as non-executive director, owning 6.2 million shares, or 1.6 percent of the company. This is a critical time for Coty, as it recovers momentum from its failed attempt to acquire Avon Products Inc. and builds steam for its expected $700 million IPO next year.
Mortier has played a key part in Coty’s global management structure as senior vice president, commercial, since 2005. He joined the company in July 2005, when Coty purchased Unilever Cosmetics International, where Mortier worked as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Unilever’s Calvin Klein Cosmetics division. He also played a strong role in the crucial travel retail business.
“Jean’s strong retailer partnerships, his focus on growth and his understanding of the dynamics of consolidated and emerging markets will be key assets in moving Coty toward the next stage of our success,” said Scannavini. “He has established fantastic and constructive relationships throughout the entire organization and is a role model of our ‘Faster. Further. Freer.’ culture.”
Mortier, who will remain based in Paris, is keeping control of one piece of his old turf, North America, but the rest of his previous territory has been awarded to Peggy Elsrode, who has been named senior vice president, commercial, for EMEA, or Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific, and TREX, or Travel Retail and Export. Elsrode is based in Geneva at Coty’s recently opened Center of Fragrance Excellence. She previously was vice president of travel retail and export, joining the company in 2005 as part of the Calvin Klein acquisition.
In an interview Wednesday, Mortier thanked Coty for picking him for the job, then he flashed his eagerness to get started. His focus is “to continue developing global power brands,” with a pipeline full of innovation. Mortier ticked off the launches hitting stores, including the new Marc Jacobs fragrance Dot; Calvin Klein’s new men’s scent, Encounter, and the new Balenciaga women’s fragrance, Florabotanica. “It will be a very busy season for us,” he said.
Coty is also at work on getting its Philosophy skin care brand up to speed with a new product, Full of Promise, a cream designed to restore the skin’s volume and lift. It is now wending its way through the distribution. Mortier added that a strong Christmas program has been put together for the brand.
Before joining Coty, Mortier had started at Unilever in 1984 and held various positions in finance, internal audit, human resources, sales and trade marketing. Under the Unilever umbrella, he put together a portfolio of prestige brands, including not only Calvin Klein Cosmetics, but also Vera Wang and European designer brands Cerruti, Chloé and Lagerfeld. He managed affiliate markets outside North America, distributor territories, as well as the travel retail business.
Mortier’s appointment was a key move in continuing the momentum of the company, which logged $4.5 billion in sales for 2011. That figure has grown nearly threefold since Beetz took the helm in 2001 and started building the fragrance business. He is widely credited with reinventing the celebrity fragrance category, beginning with Glow by JLo fragrance. Recently he has engineered a string of acquisitions, namely Philosophy and OPI, to lessen the company’s dependency on the historically problematic fragrance business.