“With the departing of François Dalle, the whole staff at L’Oréal join with me in expressing their profound sadness.
François Dalle wrote a decisive chapter in the history of L’Oréal. His love of humanity, his intuitive feeling for consumer demands, his affection for our products and his commanding knowledge of the scientific aspects of our business, all made him a pioneer and an exceptional manager, who fought relentlessly to build a leader in the cosmetics industry.
He turned L’Oréal, a brand known mostly in France, into a multi-brand group built on innovation and for which he laid the foundations of its international development.
He was a visionary, a man of intuition, anticipation and human contact, who, for more than forty years at the head of our organisation imposed a unique vision of the marketplace and its consumers.
But beyond this he was, for me and for several generations of L’Oréal people, an outstanding mentor. He was a deeply generous man, always eager to share ideas and pass on his know-how, his experience and his values. He recognised talent in his staff and was always demanding of them yet constantly cheerful and attentive to their needs.
His commitment and the ambition that he instilled in the group, his vision of the future, his sense of anticipation and strategy were absolutely remarkable. His example still guides our action today”.
His greatest achievements:
His desire to always “seize up-and-coming trends” made him a pioneer in a number of areas:
• Just like Eugène Schueller, the founder of L’Oréal whose deputy he had been, François Dalle relied on research as the driving force to growth and made it one of the organisation’s top priorities. He strove constantly to strengthen our workforce: starting with 25 research staff when he arrived at L’Oréal, numbers grew to more than a 1,000 in the mid-eighties. With his ongoing commitment to state-of-the art technologies he helped give the cosmetics industry a truly scientific base.
• Products that arose from the work of his research teams still enjoy considerable success on the world markets, such as Elnett hair lacquer from L’Oréal, or the hair colouring Préférence or the skin care range Plénitude (Dermo Expertise) or Elsève.. The hair colouration Majirel from L’Oréal Professionnal. The perfumes Anaïs, Anaïs from Cacharel or Drakkar from Guy Laroche.
• He distributed the group’s cosmetic products via all channels likely to boost sales, something that no other group had done before. For 45 years the L’Oréal brand had been sold exclusively by hairdressers but at the beginning of the fifties it became available for the first time through retail outlets. By buying out new brands, the group also ensured a place for itself in the luxury goods and chemist shop outlets.
• He helped ensure stability for the organisation so essential for long term strategy. An agreement signed in 1974 between Mrs André Bettencourt and her family and Nestlé – where he had been vice president- ensured stability among the group’s shareholders and facilitated L’Oréal’s development in certain international markets. A new agreement was reached in 2004.
• He built up one of the top multi-brand groups in the consumer products industry by acquiring such prestigious brands as Lancôme (1964), Garnier (1965), Biotherm (1970), and Vichy. He also created and built from scratch such now well-known brands as Kerastase for sales through hairdressing salons. Finally he signed licensing agreements with premier designers and brands like Guy Laroche (1966) or Cacharel.
• He was on the lookout for outlets for his brands across the whole world. He deployed them throughout all of his European subsidiaries. Furthermore he signed distribution agreements in the principal markets of the world firstly in the US where he was chief executive in 1953 and then in Japan in 1963. Agents were also recruited to represent the brands in many countries and subsidiaries created especially in Latin America.
• His passion for the world of business led him to always encourage dialogue in industrial relations and in his dealings with people, whether inside L’Oréal or in one or other of the Associations he set up: Entreprise et Progrès or Institut de l’Entreprise. His desire to improve the level of education of all his staff moved him to set up the Centre for Documentation and Continuing Education (CEDEP) and the Centre for Applied Literary and Scientific Studies (CELSA).