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Olivier Bottrie, The Estée Lauder Companies Global President, Travel Retail and Retail Development, to retire : The Moodie Davitt Report – The Moodie Davitt Report

 

The Estée Lauder Companies today paid tribute to its Global President, Travel Retail and Retail Development Olivier Bottrie who has decided to retire after a “remarkable” 26-year career with the US beauty house.
Olivier Bottrie: A strong proponent of sustainability, inclusion, diversity and equity, he drove the travel retail channel from approximately 6% of group net sales in 2004 to around 28% in 2021
Bottrie will transition to a special advisor role effective 1 May and will depart the company on 30 June. In the coming days, successors for both travel retail and retail development will be announced. Bottrie will work closely with these individuals starting in May to support a smooth and successful transition.
“Olivier is a strategic leader with clarity of vision, deep international expertise and a dynamic and inclusive leadership style,” said The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) President and Chief Executive Officer Fabrizio Freda.
“He has been a driving force for innovation and growth, leveraging his strong relationships, commitment to excellence and laser focus on the travelling consumer’s needs to transform travel retail into a growth and profit driver for the company.
Throughout his career, and especially over the last two years, Olivier has been a guiding force and mentor for his talented team, always leading with confidence and compassion. His presence will be greatly missed across the organization and throughout the industry.”
As the head of ELC’s global travel retail business since 2004, Bottrie has built what the company called “an exceptionally strategic and action-oriented team”, growing the travel retail channel – which now spans some 140 countries and territories – from approximately 6% of group net sales in 2004 to around 28% in fiscal year 2021.
In 2019, ELC became the market share leader in the total beauty category in travel retail, maintaining the top position in 2020 despite the global pandemic.
ELC said that throughout his career, Bottrie has embraced the power of transformation and championed the first-to-market advantage. He was early to recognise the opportunity in marketing to the Chinese travelling consumer globally as well as seizing upon the online pre-tail opportunity to unlock growth.
He expanded the company’s brand portfolio aggressively in the channel and led the development of new capabilities in product innovation, digital engagement, education and business intelligence and analytics, ELC added.

In 2017, Bottrie expanded his remit to include oversight of Retail Development, managing the company’s freestanding store portfolio while strengthening retail excellence and efficiency to drive increased consumer coverage and profit. In particular, he created a new global store design structure, accelerated omnichannel integration and supervised the development of bespoke retail organisations in the regions.
A long-time steward of ELC’s values, Bottrie spearheaded the creation of travel retail’s own sustainability goals in 2021. He is also a proponent of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (ID&E), advancing ELC’s commitment to equity through the sponsorship of travel retail’s own  ID&E Champions, NOBLE (Network of Black Leaders and Executives) Travel Retail Employee Resource Group, and the creation of an exclusive talent and development programme with Florida A&M University, the top public Historically Black College/University in the United States.

Committed to giving back, Bottrie and two other travel retail executives (Ed Brennan, then-DFS Chairman & CEO; and Martin Moodie, Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Davitt Report) co-founded Hand in Hand for Haiti in 2010 in response to the devastating earthquake that struck the impoverished nation that January. Hand in Hand for Haiti is a non-profit organisation that built and operates a school in Haiti, and today provides education to 360 children focusing on the country’s youngest and neediest.
Flashback to March 2010 and Olivier Bottrie with Martin Moodie (left) and Ed Brennan (right) deliver badly needed supplies to Port-au-Prince’s infamous shanty town Cité Soleil, home to some 250,000 residents who live in acute poverty and amid great squalor
Flying on a 16-seater Tortug’ Air flight to Jacmel during the search for a location for the proposed school 
In recognition of this work, Bottrie was received into the National Order of Merit of France, as well as the National Order of Honor and Merit of Haiti. In October 2015, he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti in recognition of his work there.
{Above and below) Olivier Bottrie being awarded the Ordre National Honneur et Mérite with Knight rank, Haiti’s higest honour, by President Michel Joseph Martelly in recognition of his humanitarian contribution to the country

ELC said throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as the travel retail industry has faced an unprecedented level of disruption, Bottrie strongly prioritised the health, safety and wellbeing of his colleagues and their families. His steady hand throughout the pandemic as well as his confidence in his team’s ability to weather the storm have played an important role in ELC’s success, the company added.
February 2015 and Olivier Bottrie is appointed to the French National Order of Merit in honour of his philanthropic achievements following the Haiti earthquake. Here he is congratulated by French Ambassador to Haiti Patrick Nicoloso {Photo: Frédéric Dupoux}.
“We are grateful for Olivier’s tremendous contributions to our business over the past 26 years, and the many ground-breaking initiatives he has led for Travel Retail and the company,” said Executive Chairman William P. Lauder.
“With his empathetic and inclusive leadership style, Olivier has made an enormous difference both within and beyond ELC through his passion for giving back. On behalf of the company and the Lauder family, I would like to wish Olivier the very best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Ed Brennan: Olivier Bottrie was one of a handful of people who inspired me as a leader
Former DFS Chairman & CEO and fellow Co-Founder of Hand in Hand for Haiti Ed Ed Brennan said: “During one’s career, if you’re fortunate you meet a handful of people who inspire you as a leader… Olivier is one of these special people whom I met back in 1997 in Hawaii and our relationship flourished over the following 25 years.
“We battled frequently in the trenches, challenging each other on strategy, tactics and financials, all with the goal to build the beauty business within travel retail to be the industry leader. Today I’m proud to say we accomplished our objective which is in large part do to Olivier’s drive and competitiveness.
“We also had the rare opportunity to work together to start Hand and Hand for Haiti which brought us, our families and industry even closer together. Olivier was the visionary behind this project and we’ve worked tirelessly to provide a world-class education to the poor and underserved children of Haiti.”
Based on his stellar achievements over the past 18 years in leading The Estée Lauder Companies’ travel retail operations – years in which, incredibly, the channel’s share of group sales rose from around 6% of net sales in 2004 to approximately 28% in fiscal year 2021 – one could be excused for presuming that Olivier Bottrie would have been a regular face in Moodie Davitt interviews down those years. Especially so as I have known him very well since long before he assumed his travel retail leadership role.
In fact, one has to search long and hard in our archives for a solitary quote. Olivier preferred to let his actions and results do the talking. And any quotes you do find will likely centre around his great humanitarian pursuit of creating hope for the children of Haiti or his commitment to nurturing the values of inclusion, diversity and equity (ID&E) and sustainability that the business he led with such aplomb is so committed to.
One that does stand out, however, is this: “When I was an officer in the French Marine Airborne Corps, we had a motto, inherited from the British SAS, who created and trained French airborne units in Libya in 1943: ‘Who dares wins’.” It was his response to a question I posed him back in February 2010, just weeks after the Haiti earthquake about whether his mission was possible or fanciful in such a complex, ravaged and impoverished country.
Olivier dared and Olivier won. It took steel and perseverance and guts. And sometimes sheer bloody mindedness. I have seen him go nose-to-nose (I kid you not) with customs officials at Toussaint Louverture Airport in Port-au-Prince when they tried to charge excessively for technical equipment he was bringing in for the school. He was simply not going to put up with nonsense, bureaucracy or corruption – call it what you will – like that. Stand-off. Brinkmanship. And never backing down. Olivier won the day.
He had his share of stand-offs in business too. He could be tough. But he also valued the ‘win-win’ principle and with a few exceptions, that triumphed in the end.
My fondest memories of Olivier though will not be from corporate life but from our trips to Haiti, particularly that first unforgettable visit to a semi-destroyed country just weeks after the January earthquake. We visited Cité Soleil – Port-au-Prince’s notorious shanty town, widely considered one of the most dangerous places on earth – to give out vital supplies. Watching him and another industry leader Ed Brennan throwing sacks of food off the back of a truck, wholly committed to an urgent humanitarian cause and unfazed about their personal safety moved me then as the memory moves me today.
He won, but never sought, numerous accolades along the way. All of them richly deserved but the prize he sought most of all was to see that school open and flourish. He did that and so very much more.
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