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Aurelian Lis Tapped as CEO of Dermalogica

The executive is leaving Benefit Cosmetics to take on the post at the Unilever-owned brand.

Aurelian Lis is leaving Benefit Cosmetics to become chief executive officer of Dermalogica, a recently acquired unit of Unilever.

Lis, general manager of the Americas, has been with the company for nearly six years. He will succeed Stephen Kurland, who is retiring after 24 years with Dermalogica.

Kurland is credited with being instrumental in building Dermalogica, particularly with the opening of markets in the U.K., Australia, Canada and Germany. He was appointed ceo of the brand 18 months ago. According to sources, Kurland will remain with the company into next year to provide a transition.

Lis is expected to leave Benefit by the end of November and join Dermalogica, based in Los Angeles, at the beginning of the year. He will report to Vasiliki Petrou, senior vice president of Unilever Prestige.

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During Lis’ tenure, the size of the Americas business at Benefit reportedly quadrupled to around $500 million, according to industry estimates, while global sales exceeded the $1 billion mark for the total company, which is a unit of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Sales have been driven by a hot series of They’re Real makeup products, which yielded the number-one selling mascara in the U.S.

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Lis will be succeeded at Benefit by Alfred Stillman, senior vice president of U.S. sales. Jean-Andre Rougeot, Benefit’s ceo, confirmed the changes and underscored Stillman’s depth of experience, not only with his seven years at Benefit, mostly working with Lis, but his prior tenure with Chanel and DFS. “He’s very experienced and well-known with the people at Macy’s, Sephora, Nordstrom and Ulta Beauty,” Rougeot said, adding that Stillman was the architect of the close working relationship between Benefit and Ulta. “He’s good, very smart and a strong commercial sales guy.”

As for Lis, his contributions were not overlooked. Rougeot admitted that although Benefit was born in the U.S. 40 years ago, “we were not a very well performing brand in the U.S. Aurelian put a much stronger focus on brand DNA and a stronger focus on digital. He worked to reinforce the relationship with retailers and gave us a stronger visual presence in the stores. He was the architect of pushing the brow bars,” Rougeot observed.

Prior to joining Benefit, Lis had a customized skin-care company called Prescribed Solutions, which was sold to a unit of the Michigan-based Ferndale Pharma Group in August 2009.

Dermalogica, with sales estimated at $250 million by industry sources, distributes its products through a network of salons and retail stores, like Ulta Beauty.

There was no word on the future direction that parent Unilever intends to take with Dermalogica, but Alan Jope, the group’s president of personal care, recently opened a window during an interview with WWD’s Beauty Inc. While stating that Dermalogica and Unilever’s other prestige market acquisitions will be given a degree of autonomy, he observed, “In the case of Dermalogica, the brand is quite mature and we will be looking to inject technology and geographical expansion. It is mature in its core markets. Dermalogica — you can buy it in over 100 countries in the world but it is only properly distributed in about seven. Those run across Europe and into Asia. Obviously we can take Dermalogica much deeper into Europe and across Asia,” Jope concluded.