Kiwi replaces Kiwi at L'Oreal NZ

Last updated 14:42 25/06/2014
Brendon Urlich
GOOD ADAPTERS: "The company is saying, 'They've got great ideas down there; let's take some of that DNA out of New Zealand'," says Brendon Urlich.

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New Zealand is becoming a talent "hothouse" for cosmetics giant L'Oreal, the company's outgoing New Zealand boss says.

Brendon Urlich, who became the first New Zealander appointed to the job of executive general manager two years ago, has been picked to head L'Oreal's operation in Vietnam.

He will be replaced by another New Zealander, Martin Smith, who began his career at L'Oreal in New Zealand 18 years ago before being chosen to run the company's Kerastase division in Britain.

Other Kiwis who have completed the so-called L'Oreal OE and returned home include Rachael Baldwin, professional marketing manager for L'Oreal New Zealand, and Kate Winstone, who is a senior brand manager.

Hormoz Hosseinpour, a former manager of one of the company's distribution centres in Auckland, was recently promoted to Shanghai to run 17 distribution centres across Asia-Pacific and India.

Urlich said New Zealand made up only a small part of L'Oreal's global business but "punched above its weight" when it came to producing talent for the company.

L'Oreal New Zealand recorded a profit of $9.8 million in the 2012 financial year on revenue of just under $91m, compared with a worldwide operating profit of €3.3 billion ($5.2 billion) on sales of €22.5b.

"Probably one of the key things is culturally we seem to adapt things quite well in New Zealand," Urlich said.

"We just get on with it at the bottom of the world.

"The company is saying, 'They've got great ideas down there; let's take some of that DNA out of New Zealand'."

Urlich said L'Oreal New Zealand was one of the few multinational firms in this country to exclusively employ New Zealand staff, which number about 180.

While preaching the virtues of knowing the local market, he admitted there was "some irony" in him moving to Vietnam, a country of about 90 million people with a vastly different business climate.

However, Vietnam was "local" in an Asia-Pacific regional sense.

"It's about localising on a regional scale, rather than sending someone down from Paris in a commando suit," he said.

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