Dhe news came as a surprise: the Douglas perfumery chain is getting a new CEO. Tina Müller, who has been in charge of Douglas for around five years, is handing over her position to Dutchman Sander van der Laan. Müller moves to the supervisory board. The change at Germany’s largest perfumery chain is to be completed quickly: Müller is to vacate her post on November 1st. The company announced this on Thursday.
According to Henning Kreke, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, they are pleased to have found an “excellent manager” in van der Laan. “At the same time, I would like to thank Tina Müller on behalf of the entire Supervisory Board for her outstanding contribution to the company’s success story and I regret her departure.”
If Müller has his way, the exit was planned for a long time: “This step is incredibly difficult for me,” writes the manager on the LinkedIn job portal. “My decision is made easier by the fact that with Sander van der Laan there is a seasoned successor with many years of retail experience.”
With 2.5 billion euros in debt
Both Kreke and Müller emphasize that the departure was voluntary – but there are also signs that there was a lot of rumbling behind the scenes: the Douglas owner, the financial investor CVC, is said to have put the pressure on. The private equity firm that bought Douglas in 2015 owns 85 percent of the shares. The purchase was debt-financed – since then, Douglas has been in debt to the tune of around 2.5 billion euros. Interest payments, which the perfumery chain has to earn back, are therefore a burden on Douglas. With van der Laan, Alexander Dibelius, head of Germany at CVC, is now hoping for higher sales and returns.
There has also been talk for a long time about a return of perfumery to the stock exchange – but due to the corona pandemic and the current difficult world situation, this is becoming more of a distant prospect. With the thunderstorms such as inflation or the war in Ukraine, Tina Müller is no longer the right CEO, according to company circles. Müller is known for having strongly promoted Douglas’ online business. The 54-year-old wanted to further focus investments in the further digitization of Douglas, while CVC primarily wanted to save costs. Although Müller has had great success with Douglas, the company needs a new type of manager due to the uncertain world situation. In short: it no longer fits. A renovator should come.
Douglas now believes he has found him in 54-year-old van der Laan. The Dutchman has a lot of experience in retail, most recently he managed the business of the non-food discounter Action. Previously, he worked for the retail company Ahold Delhaize for over 16 years, most recently as managing director of the Albert Heijn retail chain. Now the Dutchman is moving to Düsseldorf. “I look forward to contributing my experience and continuing the company’s success story together with an excellent team,” says the future head of the perfumery.