Leena Nair is French fashion house Chanel’s new global CEO. She is a former executive of Unilever.
The London-based Indian and former Unilever executive has been appointed the new global CEO of the French luxury house
“The first female, first Asian, youngest ever CHRO of Unilever,” Reads the LinkedIn profile of London-based Leena Nair. As a former Chief Human Resources Officer and Member of the Unilever Leadership Executive of British consumer products company, Unilever, Nair, 52, has just been named the Global Chief Executive Officer of French luxury Maison, Chanel.
Her unrivaled 30+ year experience at Unilever, where she began as a management trainee in 1992, makes her appointment a welcome opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to the industry. The XLRI Jamshedpur alumna has been recognized as one of Fortune India’s Most Powerful Women 2021 for her people-oriented approach to company culture in large organizations.
Nair began as a trainee on the factory floor of Unilever and worked her way up to the top of the company. Now, Nair is joining Chanel at a time when the fashion industry is under pressure to show a more inclusive approach.
Her tenure at Unilever led to gender parity across global management, according to a Harper’s Bazaar profile published last month. The profile praised her commitment to paying a living wage across the company’s supply chain.
Nair follows former Chanel CEO Maureen Chiquet, who came from a fashion background and served for nine years as her successor.
Founded in 1910 as a hat boutique on rue Cambon in Paris by fashion legend Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Chanel grew to become a symbol of French chic.
Alain Wertheimer, who co-owns the brand with his brother Gerard, has been acting CEO since Maureen Chiquet left in 2016. Alain Wertheimer will become global executive chairman.
Chanel, known for its tweed suits, quilted bags, and No. 5 fragrance, has announced that Nair will join the company in January, adding that the new appointments will help it “long-term success as a private company.”
Nair, born in India and a British national, is a rare outsider at the top of the tightly controlled family fashion company