Ralph Lauren, founder of the iconic fashion company that bears his name, has announced stepping down as chief executive of the empire he built over five decades. Known the world over for its quality products, Ralph Lauren reported sales of $7.5 billion in 2014 and had over 23,000 employees worldwide.
Stefan Larsson, president of the Gap-owned budget chain Old Navy would take his place in November. Larsson is credited with reviving sales at Old Navy, where he offered the latest styles at low prices. Under his leadership, Old Navy sales rose 8% in 2014 and became Gap’s biggest business.
Lauren, who turns 76 in October, said Larsson 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. Lauren said his successor was “exceptionally talented” and would bring “a fresh and exciting global perspective” to the company. Ralph Lauren’s shares rose 11% following the announcement.
Ralph Lauren started the company, Polo Fashions in 1968. In 1972 he developed his signature short-sleeved shirts with the logo of a polo player. The Ralph Lauren brand is known for its understated but classic preppy look. Lauren’s fashion empire includes some 25 brands including Polo, Club Monaco and Denim & Supply. The company makes clothing, accessories, furniture, home decor items and footwear under its labels.
Last month, the company had introduced the next evolution of wearable technology, the PoloTech Shirt, which works with an iPhone to put real-time workout data in your hand. The silver fibres woven directly into the fabric read heart rate and breathing depth and balance, as well as other key metrics, which are streamed to your device via a detachable, Bluetooth-enabled black box.