Scent of a Shakeup: Baxter Said Leaving Lauder for LVMH

Pamela Baxter, president of Estée Lauder’s specialty group, is said to be taking a top job at LVMH, overseeing its U.S. beauty units.

Pamela Baxter

Pamela Baxter

Photo By WWD Staff

NEW YORK — Pamela Baxter, president of Estée Lauder’s specialty group worldwide, is said to be leaving Lauder to take a top job at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, overseeing the luxury goods empire’s U.S. beauty divisions, according to reports circulating in the market Thursday, as speculation grows about further management changes.

Camille McDonald, U.S. president for LVMH’s Guerlain and Givenchy beauty divisions, is reportedly staying in her post, despite earlier rumors to the contrary. However, questions remain about McDonald’s future with LVMH. In addition, it is not clear what plans Bernard Potier, president of Christian Dior Perfumes Inc., may have when his contract reportedly expires in November.

A spokesman of LVMH had no comment. Neither did McDonald. A spokeswoman for Dior also declined comment. Patrick Choel, president of LVMH Fragrances and Cosmetics worldwide, could not be reached.

Baxter’s post at LVMH is newly created and has been described by sources as a U.S. beauty presidency. It is a concept that reportedly has been discussed before, back in the mid-Nineties. It now is being viewed by some market observers as a positive attempt by LVMH to strengthen and put more emphasis on the U.S. beauty business within the company.

The move comes at a time when many companies are looking for answers. After a period of intense expansion and aggressive acquisitions beginning in the late Nineties, particularly of indie brands, LVMH, along with other companies, was faced with a prolonged slump in the department store beauty market. LVMH reportedly shared the pain of flagging profitability in a number of its businesses.

Within the last year, LVMH has been refocusing on its core beauty brands, such as Christian Dior, with an eye toward divesting the less-essential assets. It sold Hard Candy and Urban Decay for a combined price of $1 million, with the possibility of the amount varying over three years due to a price index clause, in December 2002.

This past May, LVMH dismantled its American Designer Fragrances unit by selling the Michael Kors license and fragrance business to Lauder and then divesting the Marc Jacobs and Kenneth Cole businesses to the Lancaster division of Coty, for an estimated combined sale price of $70 million for all three. And speculation has surfaced recently that Bliss, and to a lesser extent, Fresh, are actively seeking buyers.
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