J. Scott White has been tapped for the top spot at New Avon LLC. The position becomes effective April 25.
Scott joins the company from Abbott Laboratories, where he most recently was President of International Nutrition, and is charged with leading New Avon through a major turnaround effort.
The business, formerly Avon Product Inc.’s North American division, is now a privately-held entity managed and owned by Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus completed the purchase of New Avon from Avon Products Inc. in March.
New Avon stated that Scott will work closely with the company and Cerberus to “lead a transformation of the North American business through significant improvement in the representative and consumer experience, reinvigoration of the iconic Avon brand, and a rigorous focus on operational excellence.”
Avon’s North American business has struggled for some time, and ultimately proved to be too unwieldly for Avon Products, which is led by Sheri McCoy, to fix.
In Avon Product’s fourth quarter conference, Sheri said the North American business was profitable in 2015.
The North American business generates $1 billon through the sales of roughly 400,000 representatives, according to New Avon. It has struggled to retain representatives, which several Wall Street analysts have pointed out that reps find it difficult to make a living selling lower-priced Avon items.
Scott’s task, in the view of analysts, will be to modernize Avon’s business model — particularly its technology infrastructure, raise prices on select items to increase representative earnings potential and attract younger consumers. In addition to their operational skills, past Avon chiefs — Andrea Jung in particular — were seen as cheerleaders of sorts of the brand to help motivate the sales representatives. Scott, who has no prior direct selling experience, will likely have to navigate a similar role.
When Cerberus first inked a deal with Avon Products, Consumer Edge Research analys,t Javier Escalante, wrote, “The trust lies then in contemporizing a business model as to overcome the competitive gaps widened by structural shifts in beauty retailing to which Avon’s competitors are responding with changes that strikes us as more assertive and from stronger positions…If all goes well, in three years Avon will have a digitalized front-end and competitive delivery times and leveraging the IT investment would allow the expansion of margins to 10 percent by year three.”
For his part, Scott spent 10 years at Abbott, where he held a number of leadership positions, including President of Abbott Nutrition North America. Prior to Abbott, he spent 15 years at Procter & Gamble Co., where he managed a variety of women’s and health and wellness brands.
“Scott is a world-class executive whose diverse experience leading successful business turnarounds, building strong brands, setting winning strategies and driving operational excellence provides the unique skill set required to lead New Avon on a path to long-term success,” stated Chan W. Galbato, Chairman of New Avon’s Board of Managers. “He is the right leader to shepherd New Avon as it transforms into a growing, contemporary, best-in-class social selling company that positively impacts lives through beauty.”
Acott stated, “Avon’s powerful brand legacy, direct selling model and important missions—empowering women, supporting incredible causes, such as the fights against breast cancer and domestic violence—are core tenets of this company that I am committed to building upon and strengthening. Over the next few months, I will be meeting with many of our representatives, listening to them and learning what New Avon and I can do to support them, improve their earnings opportunity and enhance their experience within our great Avon community.”