Source: The Journal News 9/4/2006

Avon Putting on a Fresh Face

The Avon lady may not be knocking on your door, but she hasn't gone away.

The 120-year-old company that started out with a Mrs. Albee toting her basket of violet, rose and Lily-of-the-Valley perfumes door-to-door is striving to maintain that personal touch along with the loyalty of customers tempted to stray into the cosmetics aisles of Duane Reade and Wal-Mart.

With its reputation for quality and personalized service, Avon Products Inc. has traditionally done well in good times and bad. Many women buy the products, many are drawn to the entrepreneurial opportunity, and many are attracted to Avon's theme of empowering women. Even in the economic slump following 9/11, the company's stock far outpaced the Standard and Poor's 500 Index of stocks, nearly doubling its value by the summer of 2004. But sales have slowed.

In the midst of a difficult year that has seen profits decline and stock prices plummet, Avon is revamping itself from the inside out. The company unveiled a $500 million three-year restructuring plan in February aimed at saving at least $300 million a year by 2008.

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