PARIS — Sanofi SA has recruited Louis Vuitton chief Vincent Bastien to head its worldwide Sanofi Beaute division.
His appointment ends a search that began last March, when Claude Saujet was forced out as chairman and chief executive officer of Sanofi Beaute amid speculation about a clash of management philosophies.
Bastien, 45, has been managing director of Louis Vuitton since 1988. He had spent the prior 16 years at Saint Gobain, a French glassware manufacturer. During that period, he managed the Saint-Gobain Desjonqueres division.
Due to join Sanofi Beaute Feb. 1, Bastien will report to Jean-Francois Dehecq, chairman and ceo of the parent Sanofi.
Bastien will also consult with Jean-Paul Leon, Sanofi’s executive vice president of administration and finance, who has acted as interim head of the beauty division since Saujet’s departure, according to Leon.
Leon said Sanofi has been looking for candidates who were good at organizational management — which Bastien demonstrated at Saint Gobain — and also familiar with luxury goods manufacturing. Bastien met the second criterion, Léon said, with his experience at Louis Vuitton.
It took Sanofi 10 months to find Saujet’s successor, Leon explained, because the company has been mapping out a realignment and wanted to complete the process before bringing on board a new chief. “We have been doing a lot of strategic thinking,” Leon said. “We wanted to sell a certain number of brands and keep others. We wanted to bring on a new managing director at a time when the strategy was clearly decided.”
As reported, Sanofi recently sold the Perry Ellis and Stendhal brands. Geoffrey Beene, Krizia and Fendi remain on the block.
After mulling the possible sales of its Oscar de la Renta fragrance license — a move that elicited an overture from the designer himself — Sanofi finally decided to keep the brand, due to its strategic importance to the U.S., a market where Sanofi has admittedly failed.
De la Renta was made a director of the Sanofi Beaute board, an unprecedented step for the French company, and Oscar was designated as one of the company’s core brands. The others, which have been given creative autonomy from Paris, are Parfums Yves Saint Laurent, Van Cleef & Arpels and Nina Ricci.