Avon Products Inc., the door-to-door cosmetics seller, said Fred Hassan resigned as non-executive chairman after about four months in the post to focus on other professional responsibilities.
Board member Doug Conant will replace Hassan immediately, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Ross also was named to the board, effective May 2, to maintain the minimum number of board members required by Avon’s bylaws. Ross will step down once a new independent director is appointed, the company said.
Chief Executive Officer Sheri McCoy has been working to reverse four years of worsening results at Avon by cutting jobs and exiting smaller markets to reduce costs. Conant joined Avon’s board in April 2012, less than a year after retiring as CEO of Campbell Soup Co., which he was credited with helping turn around during his decade at the helm.
“This marks the end of the ‘Hassan’ Era, which left many disappointed,” Wendy Nicholson, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. in New York, wrote in a report today. Conant “has clearly been involved with strong, well-run organizations, and given that Avon seems to lack some of this organizational/structural strength, we hope that he can be a positive influence.”
She recommends buying the shares.
Avon fell 1.3 percent to $22.05 at the close in New York. The shares have surged 54 percent this year, compared with an 11 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Hassan serves as non-executive chairman of Bausch & Lomb Holdings Inc., which filed for an initial public offering in March. Hassan also is a managing director and partner at Warburg Pincus LLC, which bought Bausch & Lomb in 2007 in a leveraged buyout. He succeeded former Avon CEO Andrea Jung as non-executive chairman on Jan 1 and steps down after 14 years on Avon’s board.
McCoy took over as CEO last April, replacing Jung, whose 13-year tenure included declining profits, a foreign bribery investigation and a takeover attempt from Coty Inc.
Hassan was unavailable for comment, said Maryam Ayromlou, a spokeswoman.