Ralph Lauren CEO Leaving Company

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Come May 1, Stefan Larsson, the chief executive officer and president of the designer brand Ralph Lauren, will be parting ways with the designer brand, said Business of Fashion.

Larsson’s departure announcement comes less than two years after he accepted the position as CEO, back in Nov. 2015. The decision comes after a 12 percent drop in net revenues in the third quarter compared to last year’s numbers.

Formerly, Larsson worked for Old Navy and H&M, two fashion retailers whose focus is more on mass fashion than Ralph Lauren, a designer brand. Larsson brought a focus on speed and commercializing the company. He introduced the see-now-buy-now model for the brand, which previously favored a more traditional approach.

Founder and chief creative officer Ralph Lauren, who is also the executive chairman for the brand, said that he and Larsson had different visions for moving the company forward, both in business and creatively. In the end, they agreed to part ways, although Larsson’s plans for the company will proceed under the chief financial officer, Jane Nielson, and soon the company will begin looking for Larsson’s replacement.

The plans include restructuring in the company’s management, as well as cuts of 50 stores and 1000 jobs.

In addition to the reductions, the company plans to reduce production time and establish new practices for testing. Shifting the company focus back to the heart of the brand and what originally brought it success, then developing that into a current strategy, is also on the books. Both Larsson and Lauren agreed that the company needs change, said Lauren.

Larsson was the first CEO for the brand following Lauren, but their different leadership visions ultimately found them disagreeing on the company’s direction of evolution. Neil Saunders, a managing director at GlobalData Retail, told Business of Fashion that a possible contribution to the strategic division was Larsson’s previous experience in mass market fashion, versus the Ralph Lauren brand’s designer, luxury focus. Saunders also suggested that Lauren’s traditional approach to the business’s strategy could hinder the brand.

However, implementation of new strategies still leaves results unknown. Designer brands are evolving in the digital era to incorporate new marketing and selling strategies, and Ralph Lauren is among many looking for redefinition in the luxury fashion field.

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