Shiseido CEO Stepping Down

Shiseido Co. Ltd. said Monday that president and chief executive Hisayuki Suekawa is stepping down as of at the end of the month for health reasons.

Shiseido said that chairman Shinzo Maeda will resume his role as president of the company as of April 1. Maeda, 66, was president and chief executive prior to Suekawa’s appointment in January 2011 as the company put into action its succession plan. This management shake-up marks the end of Suekawa’s two-year tenure at a difficult time for the Japanese company, which is currently underperforming both in its native Japan and abroad, particularly in China.

Speaking at a press conference here, Maeda said he will take the company’s helm on an interim basis until the company finds a suitable successor. He declined to give a precise timetable for how long the executive search could take, but said he expected to be president for less than four years.

“I don’t have an exact timespan,” Maeda told journalists.

Suekawa said that his job was a strenuous one and he started worrying about his health last month, at which point he decided it was better for him to step down. He said that the decision to bring Maeda back as interim chief executive was made because possible successors within the company were not yet fully prepared to take on the role.

Maeda praised the work Suekawa has done over the past few years, noting that it has been a very difficult time to lead the company due to issues stemming from the 2011 earthquake, the formerly strong yen, a global economic downturn, and political tensions between Japan and China stemming from a territorial dispute.

“Suekawa is excellent at his job and has worked very hard, with many early mornings, late nights and overseas trips, always applying himself completely,” Maeda said. He went on to state that Suekawa needs a break but that he remains a strong person with a strong spirit. Maeda declined to divulge specifics on Suekawa’s illness, which he said was “private.”


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