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If Avon Products’ new CEO Sheri McCoy wants revenue to stabilize, she’ll need to get the company’s rank and file back in line. (Avon Products)
If Avon Products’ new CEO Sheri McCoy wants revenue to stabilize, she’ll need to get the company’s rank and file back in line. (Avon Products)

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Avon unshackles new CEO Add to ...

Six months into her tenure, Avon Products Inc. is finally giving Sheri McCoy, the beauty company’s chief executive officer, a free hand. Former CEO Andrea Jung ultimately bears responsibility for messing up Avon’s door-to-door business model.

Yet the company resisted wiping the slate clean, keeping her involved as executive chairman. The board is at last moving her out of the limelight and into an advisory role.

Ms. McCoy should now find it easier to overturn Ms. Jung’s plans if that’s what she thinks is needed.

And with lead independent director Fred Hassan taking over as non-executive chairman, she will have a former CEO of Schering-Plough Corp. watching her back.

There’s plenty of work to do to fix the damage from Ms. Jung’s ill-fated restructurings. Avon Ladies have defected in Brazil and abandoned their posts in North America.

If Ms. McCoy wants revenue to stabilize, she’ll need to get the company’s rank and file back in line.

That’s easier if she doesn’t have the former commander-in-chief breathing down her neck.

Letting go of the reins fully may be a blow to Ms. Jung’s ego, but her pocketbook won’t necessarily suffer. She’ll retain her $1-million (U.S.) base salary as senior adviser to the board, and she could walk away with more than $3-million if she decides to leave the firm.

Avon shareholders applauded the move.

The company’s stock was up more than 7 per cent on Friday. Still, it fetched a quarter more when fragrance-maker Coty Inc. proposed a tie-up earlier this year.

While ditching Ms. Jung unshackles Ms. McCoy, the company’s makeover is only just beginning.

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