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BOSTON--Gillette Co. announced yesterday that board chair Colman M. Mockler '52 and two other senior executives would retire, paving the way for a change in leadership at the shaving products company.
Mockler, 60, who has been chief executive officer since 1975, will retire at the end of 1991. Mockler is a member of the seven-person Harvard Corporation, and is sitting on the nine-member committee searching for the University's next president.
Derwyn F. Phillips, 60, vice chair of the Gillette board, and John W. Symons, 60, executive vice president overseeing the company's North Atlantic division, will retire from their positions by the end of 1990.
No replacements to Mockler or Phillips were named. Robert J. Murray, 49, who has been chair of the board of management at Braun AG, a Gillette subsidiary, will replace Symons on January 1.
The company said in a statement the moves were "designed to begin the process of an orderly succession in management."
Mockler, who has been chair since 1976, said he felt now was an appropriate time to announce his retirement, since he is pleased with Gillette's products and organization.
"The company is in a very good position," he said.
Some analysts said they were not surprised by the announcement, noting the ages of the retirees. But Diana Temple, an analyst at Salomon Brothers, was surprised by the departure of Symons, saying he was a main force behind Gillette's new Sensor razor, introduced earlier this year.
The company said Alfred M. Zeien, 60, vice chair of the board, was elected by directors to serve as president and chief operating officer of the company effective January 1.
Analysts said Gillette had been sending signals that Zeien eventually would take a leading role in the company, but they doubted he would succeed Mockler due to his age.
Mockler received praise for giving Gillette stability. He helped guide the company through two takeover battles in the 1980s and oversaw a major restructuring.
"He was probably running the company through its most tumultuous time," said Jack Salzman, an analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Under the realignment announced yesterday, the company's four operating units--Gillette North Atlantic; Stationary Products-North Atlantic; Gillette International; and Diversified Operations--will report to Zeien.
The board also elected Joseph Mullaney, 57, senior vice president, a director and vice chairman of the board, effective immediately.
Mockler said the biggest challenge for the company is take advantage of new opportunities and markets around the world.
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