Ralph Lauren is stepping down as CEO of his empire

He’s not leaving just yet though.
He’s not leaving just yet though.
Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
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Ralph Lauren, the American designer who in 1967 started his brand designing ties and built it into a $12 billion lifestyle empire, is stepping back from his role as CEO.

Stefan Larsson, a former H&M executive and currently the global president of Old Navy, where he has overseen three years of strong growth, will take his place in November.

As a management change it’s significant, but fans of Lauren’s aesthetic, which has frequently looked to the American southwest and to the country club for inspiration, need not worry. Lauren is staying on as executive chairman and chief creative officer, and Larsson will report to him.

The move is intended to help the Ralph Lauren company right itself financially, according to the New York Times. Sales growth has waned, and the company’s stock price has fallen more than 40% in the last year.

Larsson has a strong track record of growing fashion brands. He added $1 billion in sales at Old Navy, and in his 15 years at H&M helped boost sales from $3 billion to $17 billion, as the Swedish fast-fashion chain expanded its operations from 12 to 44 countries. Ralph Lauren no doubt is counting on him to be similarly successful in his new role.

The company has actually been restructuring (paywall) for months now. In May, it announced that it would regroup the constellation of brands in the Ralph Lauren universe—folding Ralph Lauren Black Label into its other brands, for instance.

“My job is to think always about the future of our company and how to move it forward,” Lauren said in the statement. “Now, all the pieces are in place to position our business for continued growth.”

Lauren had reportedly been thinking about bringing in a new business manager for years. Given the financial pressure the brand has come under, it seems Lauren thought now was a good time to pull the trigger.