GSK taps L'Oreal exec to lead consumer biz

When you want to grow your consumer healthcare business, who do you call? A consumer-products executive with a track record of growth--at least that's the strategy behind GlaxoSmithKline's new succession plan for that unit. The drugmaker announced that it was bringing a L'Oreal executive on board to eventually take the reins of the consumer business.

Emma Walmsley, now "president designate" for GSK's worldwide consumer healthcare, will join the company May 1 as president of the European slice of that business. Until now, she's been at the reins of L'Oreal's consumer products business in China, where she has "greatly accelerated" growth, according to a GSK statement. (Thereby adding an emerging-markets twist to that consumer-health growth strategy, eh?)

Within two years, she'll take over from John Clarke as worldwide president. "Emma's appointment comes at an important time as we seek to diversify and further grow this business," CEO Andrew Witty says in a statement.

Big Pharma has been diversifying all over the place: Generics, emerging markets, eye care, over-the-counter drugs, and other consumer products. Sanofi-Aventis, for one, recently bought Chattem, a U.S. consumer health company that makes foot powder and dandruff shampoo, to get a foothold in the American consumer market.

- see the GSK release
- get more from Reuters