'And They're Off' At P&G

You would think that when Procter & Gamble reorganizes its business worldwide into four industry-based groups, it has a raison d’être more substantive than the one that just about everybody is reading into it: the sportive spectacle of who will succeed CEO A.G. Lafley, who just a couple of weeks ago succeeded Bob McDonald, the man who had succeeded him in the pole position.

“Let the horse race begin,” is Serena Ng’s lede in the Wall Street Journal.

“P&G Exec Shuffle Sets Up CEO Race,” the hed on Jack Neff’s piece in Ad Age tells us.



All that appears to be missing is a caption somewhere under a picture of Lafley that reads, “Lame nag CEO.”

The four groups, effective July 1, are global baby, feminine and family care; global beauty; global health and grooming; and global fabric and home care. The are five segments under the current structure: beauty; grooming; health care; fabric and home care; and baby and family care, the AP’s Mae Anderson reports.

Bloomberg’s Lindsey Rupp & Lauren Coleman-Lochner have their eye on the strategy behind the announcement, which a P&G spokesman says was in the works before Lafley returned to the company after a stint as a consultant and contributor to business journals. They write that P&G is streamlining its business “to reignite growth.”

How so?

“We expect this structure to facilitate faster global expansion of brand and product innovations to win consumers,” Lafley says in a statement. “Taken together, these organization changes will help us operate better and faster as one unified team to win.”

Hmmmm. You know, on second thought let’s go back to that picture of a handful of middle-aged MBA-types turning the corner on the homestretch as the announcer screams his glee at the tightness of the race. Neck and neck -- or so we’d like to think for the sake of a compelling story -- as they near the wire are: 

  • Martin Riant, who will be group president of Global Baby, Feminine and Family Care, which includes Baby Care, Family Care, and Feminine Care. Riant will lead the sector in addition to his current responsibilities as Group President – Global Baby Care.
  • Deborah A. Henretta, who will be group president of Global Beauty, which includes Beauty Care, Retail Hair Care and Color, Salon Professional, and Prestige. Henretta will lead the sector in addition to her current responsibilities as group president – Global Beauty Care.
  • David S. Taylor, currently group president – Global Home Care, will be group president of Global Health and Grooming. This sector includes Shave Care, Braun, Oral Care, Health Care and Pet Care. Taylor also will assume additional responsibility for the Pet Care business, succeeding Jorge S. Mesquita who is leaving the P&G. 
  • Charles E. Pierce, currently group president – Global Oral Care, is assuming additional responsibilities for new business creation and innovation currently held by Mesquita, according to P&G’s release, and will report to Taylor for Oral Care and to Lafley for new business creation and innovation.
  • Giovanni Ciserani, who will be group president of Global Fabric and Home Care, which includes Fabric Care, Home Care, and Power, in addition to his current responsibilities as group president – Global Fabric Care. 
  • George Tsourapas, currently VP–Fabric and Home Care, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, has been elected president-Global Home Care and P&G Professional, succeeding Taylor, and will report to Ciserani.

Ciserani, Henretta, Riant and Taylor will all report directly to Lafley. In addition, Dimitri Panayotopoulos, currently vice chairman, Global Business Units, will be vice chairman and advisor to the chairman and CEO effective and will continue to report to Lafley. Finally, Melanie L. Healey, group president - North America and Global Hyper, Super and Mass Channel, will report to Lafley in addition to Werner Geissler, vice chairman, Global Operations, reflecting the size and impact of the North America market to P&G’s business. 

“The moves don’t change P&G’s structure dramatically, as many of the executives largely retain their direct leadership,” Ad Age’s Neff writes. “And none of the moves are promotions, exactly, since the executives remain group presidents.”

Neuberger Berman analyst Jason Tauber tells the WSJ’s Ng that “the changes should provide better insight into how P&G’s divisions perform and will allow investors to start getting to know the individuals who could become the company’s next CEO.”

But Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj says, “The new structure only goes part of the way in terms of solving accountability issues,” adding that there is “ too little focus on regions,” according to the AP’s Anderson. He also expressed surprise that Lafley "didn't hold off until more time had past.”

We shall keep our eyes riveted on the track. Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s true that the race does not always go to the swift. Or even the favorites on the rail.

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