Agon In Command

A lifelong sailor, Jean-Paul Agon, Chief Executive Officer of L'Oréal, has no fear of uncharted waters, even in the roughest of seas.

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Following in the footsteps of Jones may seem daunting, but Agon stepped right in, at least in the view of the maestro himself. "Jean-Paul really did have a very successful first year," says Owen-Jones, adding that "He justified the confidence
I had placed in him. Rright away he found the right combination between modesty and ambition,
and between continuity and renewal. People followed him immediately and instinctively. company didn't miss a beat. He gave a new sense of dynamism to an already successful model, with a lot of energy and youth."

Indeed, Agon has set out to map a new world of opportunity fueled by the emerging markets of China, Iindia, Russia, Brazil and Mexico. He has also blazed new avenues of growth in the masstige segment with the acquisition of Body and in the rapidly emerging "bio-organic" category of products. Iin the process, seems to be morphing from a company that was founded 98 years ago by Eugène Schueller, a chemist who invented the first synthetic hair dye, into an organization that employs nearly 3,000 scientists in 30 different disciplines practicing a more holistic definition of science designed to also harness the power of natural ingredients.

In promising Wall Street organic sales growth of 6 to 8 percent a year, Agon plans on hitching L'Oréal's marketing engine and financial muscle to the emerging markets outside of bastions in Western Europe and North America, what the company has referred to as the rest of the world. "We computed that every year, roughly 70 million new [consumers] in the world gain access to a level of income that allows them to buy our brands and products," Agon says, noting that globalization is one of the most powerful cylinders in the L'Oréal growth engine.

These "other" markets are already larger in sales volume than North America. "Tthey are now almost 30 percent of our business, and contribute to 60 percent of our growth." He predicts that one day - "very soon" - the emerging markets will generate 50 percent of L'Oréal's volume.

"What we're seeing right now is a completely new condition of the worldwide economy," he says, while discussing China, Iindia, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. "Because of the transfer of wealth around the world, these markets opened up 10 or 15 years ago, but it's really now that they're booming in terms of economic growth. Tthis economic boom creates new social classes and new categories of consumers who now have access to our products. is a historic opportunity.

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