Business Avon boots out its boss Andrea's adieu
商业 雅芳把老板给炒了 钟彬娴，再见！
An ugly mess at a beauty firm
"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.
Some problems are beyond Avon's control. Brazil, a big market, is slowing down. Europe, which accounts for 28% of Avon's sales, is in crisis: it's hard to put lipstick on the PIGS.
Avon is doing badly at home in America, too.
Shoppers are feeling Grinchy about pennies. And the non-beauty products (such as fashion accessories) that account for a hefty third of Avon's sales in America have lower margins than cosmetics. (In other countries non-beauty stuff represents only about 10% of Avon's sales.)
Other problems are self-inflicted. Avon made a mess of its new IT system in Brazil.
Its working capital is chewing up a third of its gross cashflow, mainly due to poor inventory management.
If Avon reduced its working capital, it would have less trouble paying dividends, says Connie Maneaty of BMO Capital in New York.
位于纽约BMO Capital公司的Connie Maneaty说：如果雅芳减少运营资本，那么其支付股息的困难就会小很多。
It would also have more cash for acquisitions in fast-growing markets such as Vietnam or India.
Many will be sorry to see Ms Jung tossed overboard.
As the Princeton-educated daughter of Chinese immigrants, she embodied the American dream.
She was also a role model for women, in particular Avon's 6.5m sales representatives, most of whom are female.
One reason why Avon wants her to stay as chairman is that she is popular with the salesforce.
But Avon is ailing and needs an overhaul.
A new boss will be a good start, says Ali Dibadj of Sanford C. Bernstein, a research firm.
研究公司Sanford C. Bernstein的Ali Dibadj认为，新的主席对雅芳来说将会是一个不错的开局。
The list of possible candidates includes Ed Shirley, vice chairman of the beauty and grooming unit at Procter & Gamble, an American consumer-goods giant, and Elizabeth Smith, who was in line to succeed Ms Jung at Avon before leaving the company to take over as boss of OSI Restaurant, a restaurant chain.
Whoever gets the job, the changes required will be more than cosmetic.