Fashion house Chanel hires Unilever consumer goods veteran as CEO

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Leena Nair. Photo: Twitter @LeenaNairHR

PARIS (Reuters) -French fashion house Chanel named Leena Nair, an executive from Unilever, as its new global CEO on Tuesday, picking a consumer goods veteran to run one of the world’s biggest luxury goods groups.

Nair’s career at Unilever spanned 30 years, most recently as the chief of human resources and a member of the company’s executive committee.

A British national, born in India, Nair is a rare outsider at the helm of the tightly controlled family fashion house, known for its tweed suits, quilted handbags and No. 5 perfume.

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The 52-year-old follows U.S. businesswoman Maureen Chiquet, who came from a fashion background and was CEO of Chanel for nine years until early 2016.

French billionaire Alain Wertheimer, a 73-year-old who owns Chanel with his brother Gerard Wertheimer and had originally taken on the CEO job on a temporary basis, will move to the role of global executive chairman.

Chanel was founded in 1910 by fashion legend Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel as a hat boutique on rue Cambon in Paris and grew to become a byword for French chic.

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