Longtime P&G men’s razor leader Bergh leaving to seek CEO post

CHICAGO ― Longtime Procter & Gamble Co. executive Charles “Chip” Bergh, a leader in the Gillette razor business, is leaving to try to become a chief executive officer of a major company, the household products maker said Tuesday.

Bergh, 53, is the latest in a string of executives leaving the company. Edward Shirley, a longtime Gillette executive, has announced plans to retire in January, while P&G veteran Robert Steele is retiring in September.

P&G has “the right team in place” to continue growing its beauty and grooming business, said CEO Bob McDonald.

“The large number of recent management departures is a sign that P&G is still in a state of disquiet,” said Sanford Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj.

Cincinnati-based P&G is seen as a training ground for executives, but these days there are fewer top spots inside the company’s executive suite.

When Steele’s departure plans were announced in February, P&G consolidated from three global units to two. Steele, who joined P&G in 1976, also has his sights on trying to become CEO of a major company.

One company searching for a CEO is Newell Rubbermaid Inc. which last week cut its expectations in the face of rising costs. CEO Mark Ketchum plans to retire after six years at Newell and 33 years at P&G.

Bergh joined P&G as a brand assistant in cleaning products in 1983 and since then has worked in areas from food and beverage to razors. He became president of P&G’s global grooming business in 2006, the same year the Gillette unit launched Fusion, the top-selling blade and razor brand in the world. He was named president of global male grooming in 2009.

Patrice Louvet, the president of P&G’s global prestige unit, is replacing Bergh as president of global male grooming. Joanne Crewes, vice president of the global SKII and female beauty brands in the Australasian, ASEAN, India, Japan and Korea markets, is succeeding Louvet in the global prestige role.

Crewes’ knowledge of the Asian beauty consumer is “critical” to winning in prestige, McDonald said.

Louvet and Crewes will assume their new roles on July 1, and Bergh will leave the company as of Sept. 1, P&G said.