Avon boots out its boss 雅芳把老板给炒了 Andrea’s adieu 钟彬娴，再见！ An ugly mess at a beauty firm 化妆品公司的丑陋乱局
YOU have got to go home tonight, Friday evening, and you have got to fire yourself, a management coach once told Andrea Jung, the boss of Avon, an American beauty firm. The idea was for her to come back to work the following Monday as if starting her job anew. Alas, this brilliant tip was not enough. As Avon’s share price has wilted like mascara under a sunlamp, Ms Jung is being pushed out for real. On December 13th the firm announced that she will be replaced as chief executive.
The makeover will be gradual. Ms Jung, who has run Avon since 1999, will stay on as chairman and help the board find a new boss. It will be a tough job for anyone. Avon is the world’s biggest direct-seller: an army of cheery salesfolk hawk its products door-to-door. The 125-year-old New York-based company has an annual revenue of over $10 billion and operations in more than 100 countries. But it has stumbled badly of late. Its share price has fallen by 45% this year (see chart).
Ms Jung had a glossy start at Avon, presiding over six consecutive years of double-digit growth. Yet she failed to use these fat years to invest in the business. By 2005 the firm was looking blemished. Sales declined in major markets. The share price dropped. Ms Jung laid off 25% of senior staff and cut costs everywhere except for advertising and distribution.
Avon never really recovered. In March 2009 Ms Jung launched the biggest hiring drive in the company’s history and nearly doubled the marketing budget. She saw in the global economic crisis a chance to overtake Avon’s rivals. It didn’t work.
Moreover, the company has spent more than $150m on an internal investigation of alleged corruption among sales representatives in China and Latin America. Several have been dismissed. America’s Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating, too. If Avon is found guilty of anything, the penalties could be steep.