6 things you should know about Ralph Lauren's new CEO
American fashion stalwart, Ralph Lauren is 75 years old. The head of the eponymous brand since 1967, his time has seen Ralph Lauren Corp. grow from the small neckties producing company to a globally-recognised, multi billion dollar behemoth.
His announcement to step down as CEO is somewhat of a bombshell, if not entirely unexpected. Whilst he will be staying on as Chief Creative Officer, and has stated that the move will see the future running of the company being more of a partnership than a one man job. So the big question was who would take on the main man’s mantel as CEO?
The answer: Stefan Larsson. The 41-year-old currently holds the position of Global President at Old Navy, and with his new role, is sure to be thrust into a spotlight to the level that he hasn’t experienced before. Here’s what you should know about him:
1. He made H&M what it is today.
Larsson spent 15 years at H&M. His time there saw the first luxury collaborations that the brand have continued to roll out, including lines with Versace, Mainson Martin Margiela and Karl Lagerfeld. He and his team also saw annual revenues increase from AED11 billion to AED62 billion.
2. Ralph Lauren stock rose by 4.3% in the hours after the announcement.
With RL shares in 2015 dropping by nearly 44%, equating to over AED18 billion of lost market value,to see shares raise even slightly is a sign of trust by shareholders and the wider public. A welcome sign for the company, and for Ralph himself, who holds over 80% of his companies stock.
3. He understands people’s expertise.
Before Ralph Lauren, Larsson was the Global President of Old Navy. During his time there he hired accessories designers from Coach, an apparel director from the North Face and athletic designers from both Reebok and Nike. We wouldn’t be surprised to see announcements in the next few months of new executives coming in to work on the brands under the Ralph Lauren banner.
4. He’s the right man for Ralph Lauren’s new(ish) direction.
With the recently opened Polo bar in Manhattan expanding outside the apparel design sphere and an increased focus on international expansion, it’s clear the company has heard the phrases about eggs and baskets. During Larsson’s time at H&M, the brand expanded it’s operations from 12 countries to 44. He also oversaw all aspects of store design and real estate, putting him in the prime position to work on brand expansions such as as the aforementioned restaurant.
5. It took him 5 minutes to impressed by Ralph.
The two first met through a recruiter, getting together for the first time for dinner in New York. It clearly went well, with Larsson commenting to the Wall Street Journal; “We connected in five minutes, Ralph surprised me by being so focused on growth.”
6. His move is part of a trend in the fashion industry.
In an industry that has mostly been seen as very insular, the recent past has seen luxury and other fashion brands looking outside of their previous recruitment circles for new hires. In the recent past we have seen LVMH hire an executive from Apple, and another CEO from Gap joining Chanel. Keep your eyes on this trend as it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.