New York – After five decades on top of the fashion industry, American designer and empire builder Ralph Lauren has announced he is stepping down as CEO of Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE: RL) and has already named Old Navy’s president Stefan Larsson as his replacement.
Lauren, who is turning 76 this year will be maintaining his responsibilities as chief designer and executive chairman. He clarified to Reuters he is staying active in the company and that Larsson will still be reporting directly to him.
“He understands what dreams are […] In this business, it’s about dreams because you are dreaming ahead and you’re about progress and change and newness.” Mr. Lauren said to Reuters.
The decision may be seen as a move towards financial stability for the company that has been struggling with a strong dollar and intensified competition. A stronger dollar reduces the value of sales overseas, reflected on the 5 percent fell on profits during the company’s first quarter ending June 27. Larsson on his part is known for reviving sales at the Old Navy division, becoming Gap’s biggest business with 40.3 percent of Gap’s total profits.
Reuters reported Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent to $108 after the news.
“I’m excited about my business, and I’m not leaving […] It’s a public company, and we have a responsibility to have the right leadership” said Lauren as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Larsson had been working as Global President for Old Navy since October 2012 and for three years managed to maintain the company on the lines of profitable growth, including $1 billion added in sales. Prior to that, he spent 15 years at H&M, as part of the senior management team that boosted that business into a global power with significant fashion resonance at mass levels.
“Stefan brings something special […] Stefan has the sensitivity of design and of building a business and growing companies. That’s rare in our business. Usually, it’s one or the other.” said Lauren
Lauren is not the only one who is deciding to step down in the iconic fashion company: Jackwyn Nemerov, currently president and chief operating officer, will retire also and become an adviser to the company.