Leena Nair Image Credit: WikiCommons/Yoliveros

Paris: Leena Nair, who was the first female and youngest-ever Chief Human Resources Officer of Anglo-Dutch FMCG major Unilever, has joined French luxury fashion house Chanel as its Global Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

"I am humbled and honoured to be appointed the Global Chief Executive Officer of @CHANEL, an iconic and admired company," Nair tweeted.

A rare outsider, Chanel picked a consumer goods veteran to run one of the world's biggest luxury goods groups. Nair's career at Unilever spanned 30 years, most recently as the chief of human resources and a member of the company's executive committee.

A British national, born in Maharashtra, India, Nair is an outlier at the helm of the tightly controlled family fashion house, known for its tweed suits, quilted handbags, and No. 5 perfume. The 52-year-old follows U.S. businesswoman Maureen Chiquet, who came from a fashion background and was CEO of Chanel for nine years until early 2016.

Indian-origin CEOS

French billionaire Alain Wertheimer, a 73-year-old who owns Chanel with his brother Gerard Wertheimer and had originally taken on the CEO job on a temporary basis, will move to the role of global executive chairman.

Nair rose through the ranks of Unilever having started out as a trainee on the factory floor, and her appointment comes as the fashion industry is under pressure to show a more inclusive approach.

Under her watch Unilever achieved gender parity across global management, according to a Harper's Bazaar profile published last month, which also highlighted her commitment to pay the living wage across the supply chain. Nair serves as a non-executive board member at BT and has previously served as non-executive director of the British government's business, energy and industrial strategy department.

Inputs from ANI, Reuters