Estee Lauder launches search for new CFO

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Estee Lauder has announced the retirement of its Chief Financial Officer Richard Kunes and launched an industry-wide search for his replacement.

Kunes has been widely applauded for the financial turn around of the company in recent years, which has resulted in growing sales and profits in all divisions, despite the impact the economic downturn has had on the global retail market.

He started with the company 25 years ago and has held the position of CFO for 12 years, during which time he has introduced several tough restructuring programs that have helped shape the healthier financial position that the company is currently in.

Kunes will leave the company in 2013

The company confirmed that Kunes plans to retire from the position of CFO on June 20, 2012, but will continue to serve as company executive vice president, senior adviser to the CEO until June 30 2013.

With just under a year to look for his replacement, the company said that it is leaving the search wide open, and will be looking to recruit either internally or from the industry as a whole.

Likewise, the company says it intends to have an overlap between Kune’s departure and the arrival of his replacement, to ensure a smooth transition before he retires.

Contribution to global growth

“Rick has been an integral partner in the company’s global growth and development,”​ said Fabrizio Freda, Estee Lauder CEO. “He has done an excellent job in leading the execution of our long-term strategy through his financial skills and aiding our leadership team in making important decisions to drive our strong results.”

Kune's strengthening of the company as a global financial organization has enabled it to take specific advantage of new and developing markets with added growth potential, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

Kunes began his career at Estee Lauder as international manufacturing controller, before being promoted to regional finance director for Asia, and vice president operations finance worldwide and corporate controller, before being appointed CFO in 2000.

Restructuring puts company on track

Most recently Kunes has overseen a restructuring program that has helped save the company an estimated $518m to date, which is expected to rise to between $625m and $675m.

The drivers for these cost savings have been put down to improved cost of goods, reduced SKUs, organizational changes, as well as outsourcing of specific business functions and optimized product distribution.

As a result gross margins have risen significantly in recent years, up from 74.5 percent in 2009 to 76.7 percent in 2010, and a figure that is expected to reach 78 percent in 2011.

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