Sep 30, 2015
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Ralph Lauren hands over CEO role to Gap executive

Sep 30, 2015

Ralph Lauren, creator of the Polo brand and an iconic figure in the US fashion industry, will step aside as chief executive of his namesake company, the company announced Tuesday.

Lauren, 75, in November will hand over the top executive post to Stefan Larsson, global president of the Old Navy brand for Gap. Lauren will continue to serve as executive chairman and chief creative officer.

Ralph Lauren SS16 New York Fashion Week - PixelFormula

"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.

"We have been a leader in our industry for nearly 50 years, and this is just the beginning."

Born in the Bronx in New York City to Jewish immigrant parents, Lauren began designing men's neckties under the Polo brand in 1967. He developed the signature short-sleeved shirts with the small logo of a polo player in 1972.

Subsequent moves included the building of a worldwide retail network and entries into fragrances, accessories and women's fashion.

The company's current focus includes expanding its luxury products and investing in e-commerce and mobile technology.

Ralph Lauren Corporation had $7.6 billion in sales last year. Lauren himself ranks 74th on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, with $6.2 billion.

Prior to joining Gap in 2012, Larsson worked for 15 years at Hennes & Mauritz, helping to make the Swedish retailer a global giant.

He is credited with growing H&M sales from $3 billion to $17 billion and increasing its scale from 12 to 44 countries, according to a Ralph Lauren company statement.

Larsson's division at Gap, Old Navy, specializes in more affordable apparel geared at teen and other young customers. In the most recent quarter, Old Navy was the only one of Gap's three divisions to score positive same-store sales.

Gap announced that Jill Stanton, executive vice president of global product at Old Navy, will step in as interim global president. Gap said it has begun to search for a permanent replacement for Larsson.

The announcements came after US markets closed. In after-hours trade, shares of Ralph Lauren rose 3.9 percent to $108.10 and Gap fell 3.4 percent to $29.20.

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