Ralph Lauren the iconic designer who defined American sportswear is stepping down as chief executive officer and has named Stefan Larsson as a replacement, a position. Mr. Lauren held the post for the entire existence of the brand—50 years. Mr. Lauren told WWD, “This is important to say: There is no toe in the water…I won’t be coming in two days a week, ” wanting to make clear that he is not retiring but only relieving part of his duties to Larsson. The Finnish Larsson will take the reigns in January and Lauren will remains as Chief Creative Officer and Executive Chairman of Ralph Lauren Company.
Larsson comes from Old Navy where he successfully made the beleaguered chain into the most profitable arm of The Gap Corporation. Prior to Old Navy, Larsson was part of the H&M Senior operating team of which brought the Swedish brand to international prominence.
David Lauren, Ralph’s son and board member and executive vice president said according to WWD, “I’m looking forward to working with Larsson whose commitment and passion to build great brands will be invaluable as we move into the future.”
Shares of Ralph Lauren rose 4 percent to $108 in after-market trading after the announcement. Prior to the announcement the stock was at a 52 week low of $103.
Last year the company launched Polo Ralph Lauren for women which is a younger, hipper take on the RL lifestyle brand, opening a flagship on Fifth Avenue complete with a café’ which serves Ralph Lauren’s own brand of coffee. Other brand extensions include a fine dining restaurant in midtown New York after opening one in Paris several years ago. The latest endeavors underscore the importance of managing the company for the next 50 years of continued success.