Revlon Just Appointed a Woman CEO for the First Time Ever

May 23, 2018, 1:11 PM UTC

Revlon Inc. appointed Debra Perelman its chief executive officer as the cosmetics company controlled by billionaire Ronald Perelman faces intense competition and mounting losses.

Perelman, the 44-year-old daughter of the company’s controlling shareholder, will be the first-ever female CEO for the 86-year-old business. She became the chief operating officer of the cosmetics company in January and has served on Revlon’s board since 2015.

The promotion comes as Revlon (REV) looks for a turnaround as it struggles to fend off an expanding suite of competitors. The younger Perelman must navigate an industry in flux as specialty beauty stores and online-only concepts rattle the makeup and cosmetics world. The new top executive plans to invest in digital and e-commerce to drive growth.

“Beauty has emerged as one of today’s most dynamic and fastest-growing industries and I look forward to working with Revlon’s world-class team to amplify our strategy and accelerate growth,” she said in a statement.

Perelman previously served as a senior executive at her father’s investment firm MacAndrews & Forbes, which owns more than 80% of Revlon. She takes over from former CEO Fabian Garcia, who stepped down earlier this year after less than two years in the role. Paul Meister, the president of MacAndrews & Forbes, oversaw Revlon’s daily operations in the interim.

The company posted a $90.3 million net loss for the quarter ended March 31, following an annual loss of $183.2 million in 2017. That, plus its almost $3 billion in junk-rated debt, have fueled speculation that Ronald Perelman will seek to restructure the company or its debts.

Revlon’s beauty business reorganized in 2017 to refocus on its namesake label and Elizabeth Arden, its big acquisition. Revlon bought Elizabeth Arden and its various celebrity fragrances in 2016, betting the merging of the two fading beauty giants would help bring back some shine to brands that had lost their luster.

Since then, rather than spend cash buying up smaller trendy beauty brands as its competitors Estee Lauder Cos. (EL) and L’Oreal SA have done, Revlon funneled its resources into reviving its existing portfolio, which includes brands that have been long stagnant. Along with such labels as Almay, American Crew and Mitchum, the company also owns a stable of celebrity scents, including Britney Spears and Mariah Carey.

“I can think of no better way to express MacAndrews & Forbes’ support of Revlon and belief in its future than by appointing Debbie to lead the company,” said Ronald Perelman, who has controlled Revlon since 1985.

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