AFTER POOR HOLIDAY SEASON, SUSAN FALK LEAVES BODY SHOP
Byline: James Fallon
LONDON — Add Susan Falk’s name to the roster of top-notch retail talent in search of work.
The Body Shop International PLC said Friday that Falk, a former Limited executive, has resigned as director for product and marketing.
Falk’s resignation follows a disastrous holiday season for the beauty retailer as a result of poor consumer response to its new products.
Her responsibilities will be assumed “for the foreseeable future” by Patrick Gournay, Body Shop’s chief executive
Neither Falk nor Gournay could be reached for comment. Body Shop officials declined to comment on the reasons for Falk’s departure.
Body Shop’s poor holiday season resulted in the company issuing a Jan. 12 profit warning in which Gournay said profits before taxes and exceptional items in the fiscal year ending Feb. 26 will be 10 to 15 percent below last year’s level. Last October Gournay had projected Body Shop’s new product introductions would “significantly” increase profits as the chain revamped its collections and its stores.
Body Shop reported pretax profits of $43.2 million on sales of $495.1 million for the year ended Feb. 26, 2000. (Dollar figures have been converted at current exchange rates.)
“Whilst overall retail sales have shown positive growth, our expectations for our new product program to drive this performance to a higher level during the second half were not met,” Gournay said in the warning. “This contributed to wholesale sales to European and Asian franchisees falling significantly below expectations. The speed of product innovation this year also had an adverse impact on margin and inventory.”
Gournay admitted that Body Shop had dropped too many of its iconic products in favor of new ones, which received a lukewarm response. He stressed the chain planned to reintroduce many of its older products — such as lemongrass soap and banana and chamomile shampoo — while improving its supply chain management. Body Shop also would insure that, this year, it was driven more by regional demand.
Falk joined Body Shop in March 1999 as one of Gournay’s first major appointments after he was named the company’s ceo in June 1998. She previously was president and chief executive director of Diane Von Furstenberg LP. Prior to that, she spent 12 years at The Limited, lastly as president and ceo of its Express and Henri Bendel divisions. She was one of the highest-paid female directors in the U.K., last year earning $514,500, according to Body Shop’s annual report.