Interview with Nicolas Hieronimus


2022 was another year of strong, balanced, profitable, and responsible growth for L’Oréal, which consolidated its position as the world’s number one beauty company. Nicolas Hieronimus, L’Oréal’s Chief Executive Officer, looks back at the year’s successes, talks about the Group’s ambitions for the future and focuses on the assets that will allow it to continue to ensure sustainable growth.

2022 has been another year of remarkable performance. With sales of €38.3 billion, up +18.5% L’Oréal grew 1.8 times faster than the market and delivered strong operating margin improvement.

Our unique business model, our capacity for innovation, constant transformation and the engagement of our teams have enabled us to strengthen our position as the world’s number one beauty company and bring our sense of purpose to life: to create the beauty that moves the world.

2022 in three keywords?

Balanced, Responsible and ‘Ahead of the curve’.
‘Balanced’– because we overperformed the market in all Divisions, geographic Zones and categories for the second year in a row. All the cylinders of the L’Oréal engine are blazing.
‘Responsible’ – because consistent with our ambition to achieve dual economic and societal performance, we have continued to invest strongly in our social and environmental commitments.
And finally, ‘Ahead of the curve’ – because in this world of unprecedented polycrisis, our multiple transformations have put us in the best position to lead the future of beauty. Over the past three years, we have transformed our organisation and accelerated into Beauty Tech, the next stage of our digital evolution, leveraging data and artificial intelligence. We have also transformed our ways of working to further engage our teams in the post COVID world. This has allowed us to widen our gap versus the market and be fit for the future.

What was behind L’Oréal’s success in 2022?

Our teams around the world have been at the heart of this great collective success, and this performance really belongs to them.
Our success is also the result of a number of factors:
Firstly, an unparalleled portfolio of desirable brands, which enables us to offer the best of beauty to each and every consumer around the world.
Next, our unique model, which is strategically centralised and operationally decentralised, with very a strong entrepreneurial spirit. We are multipolar by design. This model is perfectly adapted to this new fragmented world and enables us to maximise all growth opportunities.

Our leadership in innovation has enabled us to feed consumer appetite for beauty with the launch of cutting-edge products and services. We have invested more than €1 billion in Research & Innovation, launching ground-breaking technologies like UV Mune 400 on La Roche-Posay, Elvive Hyaluron Plump and Superstay Vinyl Ink from Maybelline New York, and we have also filed 561 patents to lay the groundwork for future success.
And let’s not forget the agility of our Operations, which has enabled us to continuously adapt our go-to-market plans, manage our supply chain and mitigate cost pressures.

Looking back on 2022, what are you most proud of?

Of course, I am proud of strengthening our leadership again, but I am particularly proud that, thanks to our strong results, we have been able to share our success and strengthen our social and environmental contribution.
From an environmental standpoint, close to two-thirds of our sites are now “carbon-neutral”.
We are making progress on plastics, with over three quarters of our PET packaging coming from recycled plastic. And we are pushing more refillable solutions, like the new Prada Paradoxe fragrance.
On the social front, our L’Oréal for Youth programme allows us to provide 25,000 work opportunities for the under-thirties each year. Our solidarity sourcing programme has benefitted 85,000 workers from communities that are often discriminated against in their access to work and income.
And through our funds, we have already invested €22 million to restore degraded natural ecosystems and €30 million to help women in vulnerable situations around the world.
And, of course, we also want to share our success with our employees. In 2022 we launched the Group’s third employee share plan in over 60 countries, and 35% of our employees worldwide have subscribed.
There is more we can and will do, but I am proud of what we’ve achieved to date.

How are you approaching 2023 and beyond?

Well, we know that beauty is an essential human need and has a long track-record of uninterrupted growth, even in times of recession.
We remain optimistic that this positive trend will continue, helped by the continued rise of the middle classes and increased premiumisation.
So, while we know that 2023 may be another bumpy year, we are confident that L’Oréal will deliver yet another year of solid growth in both sales and profits.
As we look further to the future, it is clear that the past few years of crisis and constant change mark the dawn of a new era. An increasingly multipolar era, more fragmented than before, one driven by artificial intelligence and tech, and with the highest expectations in terms of sustainability, purpose and cultural diversity.
To win in this increasingly fragmented world, we will evolve from universalisation to singularisation – in other words from offering “beauty for all” to “beauty for each”.
And our multipolar model, coupled with our capacity to harness the power of data and artificial intelligence, and drive sustainable change, will place L’Oréal, with its unique culture, in the best position to strengthen our leadership, create sustainable value and share it with our stakeholders.

What does this image mean to you?

Well, it’s our Unicornius Rex, a combination of the scale and strength of a leader with the agility and creativity of a startup, always ready to seize what’s starting. That’s who we are, and I am happy that with our growing size we have been able to preserve our unique ability to disrupt and innovate.