PARIS — Didier Rocher, president of the French beauty company Yves Rocher, was fatally shot Christmas Eve while alone shooting clay pigeons in Issey-les-Moulineaux, near Paris.
Although police are investigating the circumstances of the incident, a spokeswoman for the company said the death of the 41-year-old executive was not a suicide.
“It’s a rule under French law that when anyone dies alone, an inquiry must be carried out,” she stated.
Yves Rocher, the founder of the company who retired in 1992 and was succeeded by his son, will take over the helm again, at least on a temporary basis. One of his two remaining sons, Daniel, 39, and Jacques, 36, who are senior executives at Rocher, is expected to take over in the near future.
Yves Rocher markets its cosmetics through its own stores and by mail order. Rocher also controls the Petit Bateau children’s label and Francoise Saget, a maker of household linen.
The company posted consolidated sales of $1.1 billion (6.5 billion francs) in 1993 and was expected to top $1.3 billion (7 billion francs) in 1994.
After he took the reins, Didier Rocher was credited with turning around the company. In 1992, net profit had fallen to $3.7 million before rebounding to $49.4 million the following year. For 1994, profits were expected to hit $60 million.
The French pharmaceutical and beauty giant Sanofi SA has controlled 63 percent of Rocher’s capital since 1973.
However, the state-owned Sanofi has left management control in the hands of the Rocher family, which owns the remainder of the stock.
In addition to his father and two brothers, Rocher is survived by his wife and two children.