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Ralph Lauren Steps Down as CEO, Passes Torch to Former Old Navy Executive

Ralph Lauren created an American fashion empire with his namesake brand, and now the 75-year-old designer is relinquishing his post as CEO.

Stefan Larsson, former global president of Old Navy and renowned industry executive, will take over the role effective in November and he will still report to Lauren who will stay on to carry on the company’s vision as executive chairman and chief creative officer.

“My job is to think always about the future of our company and how to move it forward. Stefan Larsson is exceptionally talented, and he will bring our company a fresh and exciting global perspective,” Lauren said.

The company has been struggling in the face of a strong dollar and in its latest quarterly earnings reported a 5.3% dip in revenue year-over-year, a fact Larsson may have been brought on to change. Ralph Lauren share prices have also fallen by almost half this year.

Prior to his role with Old Navy, during which the retailer sustained three straight years of profitable growth and added $1 billion in sales, Larsson spent 15 years at H&M where he helped grow sales from $3 billion to $17 billion and expanding operations to 44 countries from the 12 the company had when he came on board.

Ralph Lauren said it is positioned for growth and the leadership change follows several other steps the country has taken toward strengthening its position. In the last two years, the retailer added three new brands to its portfolio—Polo for Women, Polo Sport and Denim and Supply. The company also put a global brand management organization in place to expand its omnichannel presence and invest in online, mobile and e-commerce to position itself as a leader in technology.

“We have had tremendous success expanding the Ralph Lauren brands around the world and creating a great management team. Now, all the pieces are in place to position our business for continued growth,” Lauren said. “We have been a leader in our industry for nearly 50 years, and this is just the beginning.”