P&G beauty chief Virginia Drosos to step down

May 10, 2012, 3:12 PM UTC

Gina Drosos

FORTUNE — In a surprise announcement, Procter & Gamble said today that Virginia Drosos, who oversees its beauty business, is retiring from the company, effective September 1, and that the company is moving its skin care, cosmetics and personal care headquarters from Cincinnati to Singapore. Drosos will be replaced by Deborah Henretta, who has headed Asia for the last several years.

The decision shows a shift in the fortunes of two high profile women at P&G—Henretta, who has guided Asia to strong results, and Drosos, 49, who has been one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women for some time but who has struggled as the beauty business in developed economies has slowed. Drosos, Group President of global beauty, skin care, cosmetics and personal care, is obviously rather young to retire, but a spokesman for P&G (PG) says she is leaving because, “although she was an architect of the division’s move to Asia,” she did not want to move her teenage children out of the Cincinnati area. He also, however, said that she looks forward to “leading another company” (search firms, start your engines).

Taking Henretta’s role as head of Asia will be Hatsunori Kiriyama, 49, P&G’s first Asian-born leader in Asia—another significant move from a company long known for its American leadership corps. Kiriyama will not, however, have responsibility over China, as Henretta did; Shannon Stevenson, China’s group president, will report to P&G’s vice chair, Werner Geissler.

The moves, while characterized as part of P&G’s annual management changes, come at a time when P&G CEO Robert McDonald finds himself under extreme pressure from analysts after a few disappointing quarters. (See also Can P&G make money in places where people earn $2 a day?) If one thing is clear, however, it’s that this global giant knows where its greatest opportunity lies—and it’s not in Cincinnati.

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