L’Oréal announces Nicolas Hieronimus to succeed of Jean-Paul Agon as CEO

L’Oréal’s board of directors announced its intention to renew Jean-Paul Agon’s mandate as chairman, a position he has held since 2011, and to appoint Nicolas Hieronimus as chief executive officer. 

The board met on 14 October under the chairmanship of Agon. Following the recommendations of the appointments and governance committee, the board decided on new governance and a succession plan at the head of the group. 

As the company’s articles of association do not provide for any exception to the legal retirement age of 65 years, Agon must hand over his duties as CEO before July 2021. In this context, the board of directors announced its intention to dissociate the functions of chairman and chief executive officer. 

Hieronimus joined L’Oréal 33 years ago and has spent all his career with the group, in many countries and divisions. He has been deputy CEO in charge of divisions since 2017. 

Jean-Paul Agon outgoing CEO and chairman of L’Oréal
The board of directors is delighted to be able to count on Jean-Paul Agon as chairman and is keen to pay tribute to him when the time comes

A forward-looking approach  

Sophie Bellon, chairwoman of the appointments and governance committee and independent director, comments: “Our committee has been working for more than 18 months on the future governance of L’Oréal and the succession plan of Agon as CEO, in an approach that we wanted to be forward-looking, objective and demanding. After studying the group’s major challenges for the coming years, the committee selected several candidates, both men and women, with the skills and personal qualities to meet these challenges successfully. The committee then interviewed them. Hieronimus emerged as the most legitimate candidate to succeed Agon as chief executive officer. His appointment was therefore recommended to the board, with the full agreement of Agon.” 

The board of directors is delighted to be able to count on Agon as chairman and is keen to pay tribute to him when the time comes. The board would like to thank him warmly for his 15 years as the group’s CEO. Agon imagined the future of beauty and fundamentally transformed the company to adapt it to the challenges of its time, while remaining faithful to L’Oréal’s core fundamentals. 

The board of directors is convinced that the proposed organisation will guarantee the sustainability of the performance, values and commitments of the Group, as well as the quality of its governance. The board and Hieronimus will benefit from Agon’s successful and recognised experience in both positions. The board of directors will be able to count on his expertise in matters of governance to meet the growing expectations of the group’s stakeholders. Hieronimus will be able to count on the advice of Agon, in the framework of rich exchanges based on the relationship of trust established between them over many years. 

Furthermore, in his exchanges with the appointments and governance committee, Agon, with the agreement of the board of directors and the full support of Hieronimus, wished to maintain the role of Deputy CEO, a position held by Hieronimus at his side since 2017. Barbara Lavernos, who will lead research, innovation, technology as of February 2021, will be appointed deputy CEO on 1 May 2021. 

Great leaders equipped for their new roles 

Commenting on these decisions, Agon said: “At my request, the appointments and governance committee started working very early, on an in-depth process to select the new chief executive officer, which it conducted in an exemplary manner. Hieronimus is an inspiring leader who has all the qualities required to be the CEO of L’Oréal. His great sensitivity to the needs and expectations of consumers, his perfect understanding of the spirit of the times, his marketing experience of beauty in all channels, countries and categories, his intimate knowledge of the group’s brands and his ability to unite and engage teams make him the best candidate to lead L’Oréal.”  

Hieronimus is also perfectly prepared for the role, given an exemplary career of more than 30 years within the group with major successes, most notably at the helm of the L’Oréal Luxe Division.  

“For the last three years, he has played a key role by my side as deputy CEO, to animate our operational divisions, especially in the period of crisis that we have been traversing for several months. He has the board of directors’ full confidence, and as well as my own,” Agon comments. “Given her background, skills and personal qualities, Lavernos is perfectly equipped to take on the strategic role of deputy CEO. With her appointment, research is placed at the highest level of the group, confirming its critical role for L’Oréal. The new direction, combining R&I and technology will be the cradle of the group’s great inventions for the future.” 

A reflection of great continuity 

These changes reflect a spirit of great continuity, to which L’Oréal has always been attached. Agon adds: “I am convinced that Hieronimus will lead our group to new successes, with the full support of the 88 000 employees of L’Oréal. As chairman, I will be delighted to continue to serve the future of L’Oréal and to pursue our ambition of economic and financial performance, and environmental, social and ethical exemplarity.” 

These changes will take effect on 1 May 2021 by decision of the board of directors at the meeting to be held following the company’s AGM on 20 April, a general meeting that will notably be called upon to appoint Hieronimus as director and to approve the remuneration policy corresponding to the new organisation.