Ralph Lauren gets new chief executive

Stefan Larsson and Ralph Lauren Image copyright AP
Image caption Newly announced chief executive Stefan Larsson with Ralph Lauren

Designer Ralph Lauren, who pioneered a luxury lifestyle look, has stepped down as chief executive of the fashion company he founded nearly 50 years ago.

Mr Lauren has given the role to Stefan Larsson, the president of the Gap-owned budget chain, Old Navy.

Mr Larsson will report to the designer who will continue to oversee the company's creative look and strategy.

Analysts say luxury brands are increasingly hiring from mass-market firms.

The iconic company has been struggling to boost profits as a stronger dollar reduces the value of sales from outside the US.

Mr Larsson is credited with reviving sales at Old Navy, where he offered the latest styles at low prices.

Annual sales under Mr Larsson's leadership rose 8% in 2014 and became Gap's biggest business.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image copyright Getty Images

'Natural progression'

Mr Lauren, who will turn 76 in October, said Mr Larsson would be in charge of growing future sales.

Speaking of his replacement, Mr Lauren said: "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."

Ralph Lauren's shares rose more than 11% on Wednesday following Tuesday's announcement.

Odeon Capital analyst Rick Snyder said the change in chief executive was "positive" and "just a natural progression."

He thinks Mr Larsson's background will help the Ralph Lauren brand to reorganise and create greater efficiencies in their supply chain.

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.

Image copyright Paramount/Getty Images
Image caption Lauren designed the costumes for the 1974 film The Great Gatsby

Ralph Lauren's Legacy

  • 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
  • Later Lauren branched out into women's clothing, sheets, towels and furniture
  • The company has also expanded into the restaurant trade
Image copyright Reuters

Mr Larsson, 41, led Old Navy from 2012 and has been credited with boosting sales, even as other Gap labels faltered. Before taking over Old Navy, he worked for the Swedish brand H&M for 15 years.

Ralph Lauren made $7.5bn (£5bn) in sales last year.

Mr Lauren said his successor was "exceptionally talented" and would bring "a fresh and exciting global perspective" to the company.

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