Ding dong! It’s Mr. Avon calling
Avon Products Inc. named its first male chief executive officer in almost two decades, appointing Unilever veteran Jan Zijderveld to succeed Sheri McCoy as the cosmetics seller seeks to revive its business outside the United States.
Zijderveld, the Anglo-Dutch consumer-product giant’s European president, joins the door-to-door makeup seller after it split off its declining U.S. business and moved its headquarters to London. The company said the shift was aimed at helping it focus on farflung international markets.
The move puts a man at the helm of a business that calls itself “the company for women.” The 131-year-old beauty brand uses female empowerment as a core part of its marketing message. Avon has not had a male CEO since 1999, as McCoy was preceded in the role by Andrea Jung, who stepped down in 2012.
Zijderveld said in a statement: “I am thrilled to be joining Avon at such an important chapter in the company’s turnaround. I strongly believe in the opportunity and relevance of direct selling for today’s representatives and consumers. Avon is an iconic brand with an incredible global footprint as the world’s leading direct-selling beauty company, operating in the attractive and growing beauty category.”
McCoy’s departure, announced in August, followed pressure from activist investors, who called for the appointment of a new chief after disappointing financial results. A group led by Shah Capital, Barington Capital Group and NuOrion Partners — collectively owning about 3.5 per cent of the shares — also urged the board in January to hire financial advisers to explore a possible sale.