Avon said today its operations in Australia and New Zealand would be closed by the end of the year as part of new moves by the storied beauty group to return to profitability.
Founded 132 years ago, Avon is one of the world's biggest direct sellers.
Its products are sold through more than six million independent sales representatives, including more than 21,000 in Australia.
However, the group has struggled in recent years, with its chief executive stepping down in August after a string of quarterly losses that triggered pressure from activist investors.
In a statement on its Australian website today, Avon said: “As part of the company’s strategy to return Avon to long-term sustainable profitable growth, the focus will be on markets with the greatest potential for future growth to support its vision of becoming the world’s leading social beauty company.
“In line with this, after a thorough deliberation on our performance, the direct selling conditions in the market, and potential for growth, we have considered all options for the business and it is with much sadness that we are announcing our decision to exit the Australia and New Zealand markets.”
The statement quoted Avon ANZ president and managing director Sharon Plant as saying the pending withdrawal from Australasia was “a very sad day for our employees and representatives”.
“As a management team our commitment and focus over the coming days, weeks and months is to support our people and the wider Avon community who are impacted by this decision,” she said.
“I would like to thank all the employees, representatives and customers who have supported Avon in Australia and New Zealand over the years.”
Avon traces its roots back to 1886, when struggling door-to-door salesman David McConnell made the decision to sell perfumes to New York homes.
While the business prospered as The California Perfume Company, Mr McConnell had aspirations to expand his company overseas.
Taken by the beauty of Stratford-upon-Avon during a visit to England, he chose in 1939 to rename the business Avon.
This article originally appeared on The West Australian.