De­ciem CEO re­moved af­ter suc­cess­ful in­ter­ven­tion by in­vestor Es­tee Lauder

CEO Bran­don Tru­axe an­nounced he was clos­ing the com­pany with­out no­tice

Waterloo Region Record - - Business - TARA DESCHAMPS

TORONTO — The founder of De­ciem, the self-pro­fessed “Ab­nor­mal Beauty Com­pany,” saw his reign at the Toronto cos­met­ics brand come to an un­usual end on Fri­day.

Bran­don Tru­axe was ousted from his role as the com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive and board mem­ber on an in­terim ba­sis af­ter a judge ap­proved an On­tario court ap­pli­ca­tion from Es­tee Lauder Com­pa­nies Inc., which holds a one-third stake in De­ciem.

New York-based Es­tee Lauder pushed for Tru­axe to be re­moved from the com­pany, barred from “is­su­ing state­ments or cir­cu­lat­ing me­dia” on De­ciem’s so­cial me­dia ac­counts and re­stricted from talk­ing to the com­pany’s em­ploy­ees or mak­ing per­son­nel and busi­ness changes to De­ciem.

In its ap­pli­ca­tion, Es­tee Lauder said its fight to oust Tru­axe was fu­elled by hun­dreds of “out­ra­geous, dis­turb­ing, defam­a­tory, and/or of­fen­sive posts” he made on De­ciem’s so­cial me­dia pages over the last year that “harmed” the busi­ness and its rep­u­ta­tion.

Es­tee Lauder pointed to a week­end In­sta­gram post from Tru­axe, where he an­nounced De­ciem op­er­a­tions would be shut­ting down un­til fur­ther no­tice and al­luded to crim­i­nal mis­con­duct.

“Please take me se­ri­ously,” he said, in the video that tagged dozens of celebri­ties and well-known brands in­clud­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. “Al­most ev­ery­one at De­ciem has been in­volved in a ma­jor crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, which in­cludes fi­nan­cial crimes and much other. You have no idea what a soldier I have been for 13 years.”

Mark Gelowitz, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Es­tee Lauder, said Tru­axe’s In­sta­gram posts and his de­ci­sion to close the busi­ness had caused no­tices of breach from land­lords, con­cerns from sup­pli­ers and le­gal claims from em­ploy­ees to start “pil­ing up.”

“He has es­sen­tially lit the com­pany on fire,” he told a judge. “Maybe he was once a di­a­bol­i­cal mar­ket­ing ge­nius build­ing the brand ... but he’s gone too far.”

Judge Michael Penny, who granted the re­quests, also ap­proved the com­pany’s de­mand for Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers LLP to be ap­pointed to in­ves­ti­gate Tru­axe’s claims of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity and re­port on De­ciem’s fi­nan­cial con­di­tion to its board of di­rec­tors. De­ciem’s board con­sisted of Tru­axe, Pasquale Cu­sano and Es­tee Lauder’s nom­i­nee Andrew Ross.

Tru­axe and De­ciem did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. Cu­sano’s lawyer Derek Bell said in court that his client “wholly shares (Es­tee Lauder)’s con­cerns” and would not be ar­gu­ing against the com­pany’s re­quests. De­ciem’s lawyer ap­peared in court, but said the com­pany had not in­structed him with how to re­spond to Es­tee Lauder’s ap­pli­ca­tion.

Since Es­tee Lauder filed the ap­pli­ca­tion, Tru­axe has taken to In­sta­gram to post a hand­ful of mis­sives, in­clud­ing copies of Es­tee Lauder’s ap­pli­ca­tion, emails to and from Gelowitz, copies of text mes­sage con­ver­sa­tions about his ac­cess to De­ciem’s so­cial me­dia ac­counts and rants about al­co­hol ser­vice at an Am­s­ter­dam ho­tel he pur­ports to be stay­ing at.

“Tru­axe has ex­hib­ited ex­tremely er­ratic, dis­turb­ing and of­fen­sive be­hav­iour in his role as pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer over the course of this year,” Es­tee Lauder’s court fil­ing said. “Un­for­tu­nately, Tru­axe’s con­duct has con­tin­ued to be­come more er­ratic and con­cern­ing.”

In its le­gal fil­ing, Es­tee Lauder said Tru­axe’s de­ci­sion to shut down the com­pany, which at­tracted celebrity fans in­clud­ing Kim Kar­dashian West with its in­ex­pen­sive “The Or­di­nary” line, hap­pened with­out con­sult­ing De­ciem’s board or Es­tee Lauder.

The com­pany al­leged Tru­axe also sent a mass email “pur­port­ing to ter­mi­nate for cause var­i­ous em­ploy­ees and mem­bers of De­ciem’s ex­ec­u­tive team, in­clud­ing (his) co-chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.”

Es­tee Lauder al­leged Tru­axe threat­ened that any­one who did not fol­low his direc­tions “will be ter­mi­nated.”

In court Fri­day, Ni­cola Kil­ner was ap­pointed to re­place Tru­axe at De­ciem’s helm. Lawyers for Es­tee Lauder, De­ciem and Cu­sano said they had spo­ken to Kil­ner who is will­ing to take the reins of the com­pany and hopes to get the brand op­er­at­ing again on Satur­day. Kil­ner did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Kil­ner served as De­ciem’s CEO un­til Fe­bru­ary, when Tru­axe had her re­moved from the com­pany. By July, he was cel­e­brat­ing her re­turn to the brand on In­sta­gram.

Es­tee Lauder’s court fil­ing said Tru­axe’s choices around Kil­ner’s em­ploy­ment were made “uni­lat­er­ally” and with­out be­ing run by the board of di­rec­tors or Es­tee Lauder.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.