• Ricard previously held roles at Nuxe Group and L'Oreal
  • Dove maker pushing more into higher-priced beauty products

Unilever has appointed beauty industry veteran Olivier Ricard to run the REN skincare business it acquired last year, according to a person familiar with the process.

Ricard, a Frenchman, comes to Unilever from Paris-based beauty-product maker Nuxe Group, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the matter is private. Ricard previously held several roles at L’Oreal SA, the world’s biggest cosmetics company, including as a development manager in Asia. Unilever declined to comment.

The appointment shows Unilever’s increased investment in its new prestige beauty unit, which it carved out as a standalone entity last year and has bulked up through acquisitions of brands like REN, Dr. Murad, Dermalogica, and Kate Somerville. The business generates about 400 million euros ($452 million) in sales. The market for premium skin products and hair care stands at $38 billion, and is growing about 6 percent a year, or 2 percentage points faster than the mass market, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Deborah Aitken.

Unilever Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman wants personal-care brands like Dove soaps and Axe body spray to account for half of sales within the next few years, compared with 38 percent last year.

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