On June the 16th it was time for the last Consumer Practice Webinar before the summer, and we hosted a fantastic keynote speaker Carl Rogberg, VP Finance at global cosmetic giant Avon, on the topic “The Future of Direct Selling”.
Together with Natura, Aesop, and The Body Shops - Avon is one of the strong brands in the Natura portfolio, united by a differentiated, purpose-driven way of growth. With 3 million representatives (sellers) in 61 markets worldwide, Avon is one of the largest direct-selling organisations on the globe.
Not only did Carl Rogberg share an insightful and transparent presentation about the major transformation Avon has been through in the last years, but he also shared his personal journey and how that has shaped his career working with his own successful start-up with payment app Easypark, and at some major FMCG brands. Most notably how he in 2014, when joining UK retailer Tesco, was implicated in a book-keeping scandal that ended up with him being taken to court, threatened with jail, loss of his job and credibility until January 2019 when all charges were dropped.
It was after that in early 2019 he joined Avon after the company had just been bought out from the New York Stock Exchange, he had a great comeback as CFO and head over their Global Transformation strategy and plans. But as for many other companies at that time and still, it has not been easy to navigate an uncertain world. The Covid -outbreak, then followed by a major cyber incident which made it impossible to pack, ship or invoice product for around three week, and latest the Ukraine / Russia conflict. In Russia, they currently have more than 900.000 people (mostly women) who work as direct sellers for Avon and are dependent on that income. Based on this value-driven approach, they have decided to stay in Russia and the company is also donating 1.1B USD away each year to support women in business.
But, the transformation journey headed by Carl is continuing, and they have turned around the result after some years of decline. One of the main concerns in the change, not only from a CFO perspective, has been to push towards a positive EBITA development, which has been decreasing for the past decade. Further, simplifying the size of the product lines and creating more focus in the innovation pipeline has been the direction regarding the portfolio transformation. And, obviously, being a direct selling company it has been key to train and enable the representatives. Over the past years, Avon managed to increase the retention rate with a direct impact on the results. Some of the largest challenges are to reconstruct, and streamline internal IT systems, take out the people cost to meet the lower revenue and margin, and increase the amount of direct sellers.
We ended the session with a short Q&A with Carl, which spanned from innovation, salesforce, branding, and the main topic of relationship selling, showing that the sector is driven by very similar questions.
The Consumer Practice Webinars will be back after the summer, and we already have the speakers and dates for that!
On September, 5th, we are looking forward to the presentation of Markus Staude-Skowronek, CFO & CHRO of Marc’O Polo, and on October 10th, we are happy to welcome Oliver Nieß, VP International Sales of Amor. For further information please reach out to Florian Schmitz, Principal Consultant MU Germany.