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Robert Trigaux

Liz Smith swaps perfumes for Outback steaks, succeeds Bill Allen as OSI's CEO




Liz Smith, president of cosmetics giant Avon Products Inc. for the past five years and known for her turnaround skills, was named chief executive officer of OSI Restaurant Partners Inc., the Tampa owner of Outback Steakhouse,  Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar and Roy’s restaurants. Here's OSI's press release. And here is St. Petersburg Times staff writer Mark Albright's story, which will be updated through the rest of the day.

A former Kraft Foods executive, the 46-year-old Smith will replace Bill Allen, who becomes chairman after five years as the Tampa restaurant conglomerate's top executive. The transition is official in two weeks, on Nov. 16.

Fortune magazine recently named Smith one of the 50 most powerful women in business. This year, she ranked 29th on the list, up from 42nd in 2007, and was described as heir apparent to Avon's high profile CEO Andrea Jung. Apparently not.

Here's a quick glimpse of Smith's style, courtesy of a 2007 Fortune magazine brief:

"Smith believes in taking detours. In 1996, for example, she was running Kraft Foods' giant Jell-O brand when she opted to transfer to a small U.S. import business related to a new European acquisition. "Everybody thought I was crazy," she says

"But Smith wanted experience in sales and global distribution, and she got it. "I've always viewed my career as a journey, not an endgame," she muses. Since joining Avon as a top marketing executive in 2004, Smith has broadened her duties enormously. Named president in September, she is key to the (Avon) turnaround in progress."

--Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist


[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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