Bousquet-Chavanne could not be reached for comment Thursday, but in a letter to employees, chief executive officer William P. Lauder said, "He plans to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities outside the industry." According to knowledgeable sources, Bousquet-Chavanne will take a top management post with a venture capital-financed, entertainment-oriented company that is involved with the Internet. His resignation will take effect June 30, according to the letter.
He is the second group president to leave the company in recent months. Philip Shearer resigned Nov. 30 to join Groupe Clarins as executive vice president and president of the company's executive board. Taken together, the two resignations seem like major tremors in the ongoing, seismic cultural transformation that began Nov. 8, when the family-run company disclosed that it was reaching outside not only the family, but the company and the industry as well, to tap Fabrizio Freda as its next ceo. Freda, former president of the Global Snacks Division of Procter & Gamble Co., joined Lauder on March 3 as president and chief operating officer with the understanding that he will move up to ceo within two years. At that time, it is expected that Leonard A. Lauder will step down as chairman, clearing the way for his son, William, to succeed him, thus propelling Freda into the top spot.
While the company is clearly repositioning itself for the future, there have been signs going back two years that Bousquet-Chavanne was becoming restless on his own, long before Lauder embarked on its current makeover.
In early June 2006, reports surfaced that Bousquet-Chavanne was in the running to succeed Paul Charron as chairman and ceo of Liz Claiborne Inc. That proved not to be the case, when William L. McComb won the job.
At Lauder, Bousquet-Chavanne has played a key role in the company's international expansion. He joined the group in 1989 as vice president and general manager of Aramis International, before leading the development of the Travel Retail Division. After a detour in late 1996 when he became general manager of international operations for Parfums Christian Dior SA at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Bousquet-Chavanne returned to Lauder in early 1998 as president of Estée Lauder International Inc. and led the division until 2001.