CEO A.G. Lafley’s quiet overhaul of P&G (PG) continues. The latest: an internal announcement today, the contents of which were read to Fortune, that David Taylor, currently group president of global health and grooming, has added the beauty business to his list of responsibilities. The elevation, which puts him in charge of two of the company’s four business units, would make him the apparent front-runner to succeed Lafley when he tires of his second stint running the consumer products giant.
Taylor will inherit the title from longtime P&Ger and Fortune MPW (No. 23 in 2014) Deb Henretta, who was named global president for e-commerce, a new role. Patrice Louvet, who previously ran the prestige business, will now become group president of Global Beauty, reporting to Taylor. Taylor, a lifer who started as a production manager in Greenville, N.C., has been a rising star for a long time, but he must now turn around beauty, P&G’s biggest problem child and a challenge that Henretta apparently was unable to meet.
Henretta will continue to report directly to Lafley, but it’s hard to see Taylor’s elevation and Henretta’s horizontal move as anything but a confirmation that she is out of the running for the top job. Henretta and Taylor wouldn’t comment, but a spokesman says: “These leadership changes are another step forward in improving strategies, capabilities and plans on key business priorities where P&G needs to win. It will continue to make us a simpler, more focused company that is faster growing and creating greater value for consumers and shareholders.”
The moves also seem to signal that there are no longer any women left in the running for the top job at P&G, just months after two of them were considered serious contenders. In October, Melanie Healey, another Fortune MPW (No. 18 in 2014) and possible successor, announced her retirement in June (link to our story on her). Certainly, there are plenty of up and coming women at the company, including Carolyn Tastad, who just succeeded Healey in North America, R. Alexandra Keith, who runs skincare, Colleen Jay, who heads up hair care and Mary-Lynn Ferguson-McHugh, group president for global family care, but only Tastad reports to Lafley.
Responds a P&G spokesman, “We continue to have a deep and strong bench of women leadership at P&G. In fact, women lead some of P&G’s most critical businesses and functions—North America SMO, several of our business categories, Legal, Research & Development, IT, and now e-Business… just to name a few. We are also fortunate to have women represent 50% of our Board of Directors.”
In any case, Lafley has given no indication that he’s ready to leave yet. Says a spokesman: “We have a CEO and he is fully focused on the business.”