LOFTUS RESIGNS AT YSL BEAUTE
Byline: Samantha Conti / With contributions from Pete Born, New York
MILAN — Donald Loftus has resigned as president and chief executive of YSL Beaute Inc., the U.S. arm of the cosmetics company owned by Gucci Group.
A Gucci spokesman said Loftus would officially step down on Feb. 7, but declined to comment further on the resignation. He added that Chantal Roos, president of the YSL Beaute parent company in Paris, would stand in as ceo of the U.S. company until a replacement for Loftus is found. She will be assisted by Philippe Pourille, YSL Beaute executive vice president, international. “We have ambitious plans in the U.S., and we are currently looking for a high-caliber, strong person to fill the ceo position,” the Gucci spokesman said.
Reached in New York, Loftus wished Roos well and said, “I am looking at several things. What I would most like to do is to find a way to use both my retail and vendor backgrounds, perhaps with a company that is a vertical operation, spanning both retailing and manufacturing.”
While not discussing the details of his resignation, Loftus noted that he has worked at the company in two separate stints, adding up to about a dozen years. “I’ve been here a long time,” he said. “While the company is on a great track right now, it’s time to do something new.”
Loftus started the present tour of duty in 1994, when he joined then Sanofi Beaute Inc. as executive vice president and chief operating officer under president Laurence Aiken, who subsequently left. Loftus was named president and ceo in 1995, succeeding Pierre Berlancourt.
His previous experience with the firm started in 1988, when he worked as vice president of sales for Yves Saint Laurent. Then, from 1990 to 1993, he held a similar post at Sanofi. During the 1993 and 1994 interim, he was the New York-based president of Versace Profumi at Gianni Versace.
He started his career in retailing in 1974 at May Co., Cleveland, where he rose to vice president and divisional merchandise manager of cosmetics and jewelry before leaving in 1985. For the next three years, he was a field sales manager at Estee Lauder.
In the last year, Gucci Group has been rapidly changing the face of YSL Beaute. Last month, it merged the YSL Beaute and Boucheron fragrance divisions in the U.S. under the newly created YSL Beaute Inc. in a move aimed at creating a more effective organization in the market.
The YSL group, consisting of a separate sales force and a marketing vice president, is to focus exclusively on that brand. The Boucheron group, also commanding its own sales force and marketing executive, will oversee sales of Boucheron, Oscar de la Renta, Fendi, Paul Smith, Sonia Rykiel and Christian Lacroix. The Oscar brand also will have a marketing executive while sharing a sales force as part of the Boucheron group.
The merger is effective today.
Loftus represents the latest departure at YSL. Last fall, Jane O’Connor, worldwide president of the Oscar de la Renta brand, left the company. Her position was moved to Paris, where she was succeeded by Valerie Rivelois, who is now in charge of the brand.
Also last year, the American subsidiary was reorganized. The top positions in human resources, finance, operations and information services were eliminated when Gucci shouldered the infrastructure functions of YSL, leaving the New York beauty subsidiary with sales, marketing and public relations.