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Avon recruits new CEO from Johnson & Johnson

Avon is hoping a new CEO can give it a much-needed makeover.

The struggling cosmetics seller Monday tapped long-time Johnson & Johnson executive Sherilyn S. McCoy as its new chief executive. The announcement ended a four-month search to replace embattled CEO Andrea Jung, who had come under fire for failing to stem the company's declines and wrap up a bribery investigation.

Avon Products Inc. said Jung -- the first female CEO of the 126-year-old company -- will remain executive chairman after McCoy takes over later this month. Shares of the New York-based company fell 3.12 percent, or 73 cents, to $22.69.

McCoy's move to Avon comes less than two months after she was passed over for the top spot at Johnson & Johnson, which in February announced that Alex Gorsky would take over as CEO. Bill Weldon, who has served as J&J's chief executive for the past decade, plans to step down at the company's annual shareholder meeting April 26.

The announcement from Avon comes just a week after the company rejected a $10 billion takeover offer from the smaller beauty products maker Coty Inc.

Founded in 1886, Avon became a fixture in households across the country as its legions of "Avon ladies" went door to door selling makeup to family, friends and acquaintances. Its brands include Avon Color, Skin-So-Soft and mark.

The company markets its products in more than 100 countries through about 6.4 million independent sales representatives. Its annual revenue is more than $11 billion.

But North American sales have dropped off over the years, and about 80 percent of Avon's $11 billion in annual revenue now comes from overseas. The company has frequently missed analysts' earnings expectations and posted weak sales in some of its largest markets.

Jung, 53, joined Avon in 1994 as president of product marketing. She rose through the ranks to become CEO in 1999 and added the chairman title in 2001. When Avon announced its search for a new CEO this past December, the company said it would separate the CEO and chairman roles.

Expectations will be high when McCoy becomes Avon's CEO and a board member April 23. McCoy has 30 years of experience with Johnson & Johnson, where she served as vice chairman of the executive committee and a member of the office of the chairman, with responsibility for brands including Neutrogena, Aveeno and Lubriderm.

Before that, she was worldwide chairman of pharmaceuticals.