Trend icon Chanel chooses Indian-born Leena Nair as CEO


NEW DELHI (AP) — The luxurious style home Chanel has chosen Leena Nair, an business outsider from India and longtime government at Unilever, to be its new CEO.

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Nair tweeted that she was “humbled and honored to be appointed the World Chief Government Officer of @CHANEL, an iconic and admired firm.”

The information made an enormous splash Wednesday in India, Nair’s birthplace, the place she obtained scores of congratulations and compliments to her announcement, one calling her a “serial glass-ceiling breaker.”

The appointment is filled with “historic firsts,” stated Abhay Gupta, CEO and founding father of consultancy group Luxurious Join in India.

“I’m elated. That is the primary time an Indian is heading a world luxurious model, that too an Indian lady, and it’s the primary time a style business outsider has been picked,” he stated.

Individuals of Indian origin are on the helm of quite a lot of world tech, finance and different corporations, however the identical can’t be stated for luxurious manufacturers. Gupta, who additionally runs a faculty for luxurious administration, stated his college students can be “impressed” by the information.

“It’s very encouraging and motivating, particularly since we haven’t seen this earlier than. Coming from a non-luxury background, I count on she’ll convey contemporary perspective — it’s an indication that issues are altering,” he stated.

Whereas Nair, 52, isn’t part of the Paris style scene, Chanel has a variety of merchandise along with its excessive style designs, together with eyeglasses, watches and make-up.

Nair is succeeding billionaire co-owner and chairman of privately held Chanel, Alain Wertheimer, as CEO. A grandson of Chanel co-founder Pierre Wertheimer, he stays as world government chairman of the style home.

In a press announcement, Chanel stated Nair’s hiring “will additional guarantee long-term success as a personal firm.” Nair is because of step into her new function in January and she or he’ll be primarily based in London.

British shopper items large Unilever describes Nair as its first lady, first Asian and youngest chief human sources officer. She joined Unilever in 1992 in India and superior up the ranks, spending time on the firm’s factories early on.

Nair’s appointment is “a welcome change from the sort of formulaic mannequin of the executives that are likely to run main luxurious manufacturers,” stated Imran Amed, founder and CEO of the Enterprise of Trend, an influential business information web site.

Whereas it’s not unusual for style manufacturers to faucet folks from shopper items corporations for senior jobs, they often come from advertising departments due to their experience in managing manufacturers — a luxurious style firm’s most necessary asset.

However Chanel’s determination to rent Nair, along with her prolonged background in human sources, underscores the corporate’s efforts to adapt to evolving shopper and office attitudes towards sustainability and variety, Amed stated.

Rivals like Kering, which owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, have moved quicker to stake out “management positions” on the subject of each rising shopper consciousness of the business’s environmental influence and the significance of inclusive hiring as they battle for expertise, Amed stated.

Nair has “actually been centered on these sorts of matters throughout her time at Unilever,” Amed stated. “I believe that that alerts a very necessary problem for Chanel because it seeks to modernize its company tradition.”

Her appointment is seen again house as an indication of the rising stature of Indian enterprise leaders. It is also a milestone for girls, as a result of so few of them head up large luxurious manufacturers, Amed stated.

In her social media posts, Nair, who’s married to monetary entrepreneur Kumar Nair and has two sons, has described India-born former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi as a buddy and mentor. Nair herself just lately was awarded the Nice British Businesswoman Function Mannequin of the 12 months award.

However she isn’t the primary lady to be CEO of Chanel. Earlier, Francoise Montenay and American Maureen Chiquet held that function. And naturally, the co-founder of Maison de Chanel was a girl, the late Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.


AP Enterprise Writers Kurtenbach reported from Bangkok and Kelvin Chan contributed from London.

Krutika Pathi And Elaine Kurtenbach, The Related Press


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