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Family affair: Who will run the Lauder dynasty?

Aerin Lauder, granddaughter of beauty icon Estee Lauder seemed an obvious choice to carry on the legacy of the cosmetic giant, but after the successful launch of her own brand in 2012 she is set to focus on the future of AERIN.

Lauder, the group's style and image director and the face and head of her own home and lifestyle brand, AERIN, acknowledged there are overlaps between her own company and that of the Estee Lauder group. But she dismissed her future as the head of the family firm, adding that her "plate is full".

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Ronald Lauder, Aerin Lauder, Jane Lauder, Leonard Lauder and Fabrizio Freda attend the AERIN Fragrance Launch at Saks Fifth Avenue
Slaven Vlasic I Getty Images
Ronald Lauder, Aerin Lauder, Jane Lauder, Leonard Lauder and Fabrizio Freda attend the AERIN Fragrance Launch at Saks Fifth Avenue

The board currently includes four family members, Aerin Lauder, William Lauder who serves as executive chairman of the group, chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder and Aerin's sister Jane, who works as global president of Clinique, another skincare line launched under the brand.

The chief executive of the group is non-family member Fabrizio Freda who succeeded William Lauder in 2009, having previously worked as the group's chief operating officer.

"I am still so involved with Estee Lauder and right now we're between Aerin and I feel… my plate is full, but I will always, always have a place for Estee Lauder in my heart," said Lauder, speaking to Tania Bryer for CNBC Meets.

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Lauder's cousin William said three of the four Lauders of his generation have chosen to work for the family business and each member has different authorities and expertise.

"Aerin's sister Jane is also working in our business and she's very successful. There's only four of us in our generation. Three of us -- myself, Aerin and Jane -- are involved in our business, my brother has chosen to take a different path and he's successful in what he's doing. The three of us each have our own lanes of authority and expertise and what Aerin is doing is something that we're all extraordinarily proud of," he said.

Fashion designer Michael Kors, an old friend of Aerin Lauder, said he expected her firm to expand globally, but added that "times have changed" since the days of Estee Lauder, the founder of the group.

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"I think that she and her grandmother had this really special relationship. I think that you're talking about a brilliant businesswoman who was incredibly stylish, so I think that Aerin certainly, she's the modern answer," he said

"Times have changed, I think her grandmother was wearing a hat and gloves, and quite prim and quite proper," he added.

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  • Tania Bryer is a guest presenter and executive producer of CNBC Meets. In this series, she profiles some of the world’s most successful business people to find out what makes them tick. Bryer previously worked for BBC and Sky Television.