Susman, who could not be reached for comment at press time, has been at Lauder for seven years. Initially reporting to chairman Leonard Lauder, Susman served under two chief executive officers — Fred Langhammer and William Lauder. During her tenure, the company weathered one of the worst periods in its history: the retail meltdown following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
While the beauty company is expected to undergo another change of command in March with the advent of Fabrizio Freda as president and chief operating officer, market sources speculate Susman's move has more to do with a return to the public policy arena.
She is a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential bid and was a backer of John Kerry in 2004. Previously, she worked at American Express, both in New York and London, for eight years. But in the prior nine years, Susman worked on Capitol Hill as a staffer on the Senate Commerce Committee and then was deputy assistant secretary of legislative affairs in the administration of Bill Clinton.
L'Oréal Buys Columbia Beauty
PARIS — L'Oréal USA has further tightened its grip on the U.S. professional products business with the acquisition of Columbia Beauty Supply, a professional beauty products distributor.
Terms of the deal to take over 100 percent of the firm, announced here Monday, were not disclosed.
Columbia Beauty Supply, based in Charlotte, N.C., generated around $60 million in sales last year. It supplies products to hair salons across four U.S. Southeastern states, according to L'Oréal.
The acquisition of Columbia Beauty Supply, which will become part of L'Oréal's Professional Products Division, follows the French beauty giant's acquisition of Maly's in July and Beauty Alliance in April. Columbia Beauty Supply will be managed by Beauty Alliance of Clearwater, Fla.
"This acquisition demonstrates L'Oréal's determination to offer a better service to U.S. hair salons," L'Oréal said in a statement. Sources said buying distributors also helps L'Oréal build distribution after it pulled its products from the nation's largest distributor, Beauty Systems Group's distribution arm, in 2006, following a string of events ranging from BSG's partnership with rival Procter & Gamble to a failed union between BSG parent Sally Beauty Holdings and L'Oréal.