P&G cosmetics head leaving for Rite Aid Beth Kaplan to be succeeded by Marc Pritchard

Executive suite

August 15, 1996|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

The head of Procter & Gamble Co.'s Hunt Valley-based cosmetics and fragrance business is going to the Rite Aid Corp. drugstore chain and will be succeeded by a fellow P&G manager, company officials said yesterday.

Beth J. Kaplan, a P&G vice president, will leave Sept. 1 to become executive vice president of marketing for Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid. Marc S. Pritchard, a former general manager of skin care products, will become general manager and vice president of P&G Cosmetics & Fragrance Products.

In an interview, Kaplan, 38, said her new assignment offers the promise of an influential role. "Rite Aid is a large and growing company with a lean management structure," she said.

Pritchard, 36, who is currently based at P&G's Cincinnati, Ohio, headquarters, was not available for comment. He has worked in several capacities for P&G since 1982, including in finance, advertising, marketing, and information technology. Company officials said he produced "outstanding results" on skin care products, including the Oil of Olay brand.

Kaplan's departure marks the second time this year that P&G's Hunt Valley facility has lost a senior manager. In March, Charles J. Busta, general manager of the Cover Girl makeup line, accepted a top position with Revlon Inc.

Company officials said the departures do not signal changes for Hunt Valley. P&G's facility employs about 1,600 workers, from production personnel to top vice presidents. It produces and sells Cover Girl, Max Factor and Noxema brands.

"We are committed to Hunt Valley," P&G spokesman Donald P. Tassone said. "It's an efficient operation. We have no plans to change that at all."

Kaplan said the company has a "huge investment in people and resources" in Hunt Valley.

Robert T. Blanchard, president of P&G's beauty care products business, offered praise for Kaplan and Pritchard, who have worked for P&G their entire professional lives.

"Beth has done a terrific job," he said in a statement. "The progress we've made under her leadership has strengthened P&G's fundamental conviction that cosmetics will be a major contributor to our company's ambitious future growth goals."

Blanchard said Pritchard "has a strong track record of excellent business results and organizational leadership."

P&G acquired the Hunt Valley division when it acquired Noxell Corp. in 1989. Last June, P&G said it would try to sell a few small fragrance lines managed in Hunt Valley, so it could concentrate on its flagship perfumes.

Company officials said yesterday that they had wanted to keep Kaplan. She said leaving P&G was the toughest decision of her life. "P&G is like family to me," she said.

Kaplan said Rite Aid Chairman and CEO Martin L. Grass approached her several months ago about the position and came back several times after her initial rejection. "Martin is a very persistent person," Kaplan said.

The new position will allow Kaplan to remain in the Baltimore area, where she serves on the board of the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Maryland Economic Development Commission.

Kaplan will oversee marketing, advertising, merchandising and pricing for Rite Aid, which operates 2,797 drugstores in 21 Eastern states and the District of Columbia.

"We wanted an executive who had a track record of exceptional performance in the consumer packaged goods industry and Beth has certainly achieved that at Procter & Gamble," Grass said.

Kevin Mann, Rite Aid's executive vice president of marketing, will become executive vice president of category management.

Sally Wallick, an analyst for Baltimore-based Legg Mason Wood Walker, said Kaplan's hiring fits drugstore strategies to increase sales outside the pharmacy areas of stores.

Among the challenges: Health maintenance organizations are pushing drug prices lower, forcing stores to increase their profits elsewhere, she said.

"They've been putting more emphasis on cosmetics and fragrances, which have very good margins," she said. "I would view her experience as a plus."

Pub Date: 8/15/96

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