Ralph Lauren turnaround continues with CEO Stefan Larsson, scheduled to depart May 1st after a bit more than a year at the helm.
The resignation cements the dedication of Ralph Lauren to its Way Forward plan, a way to structure the brand’s turnaround focusing on the brand’s strengths, improving its flagship store’s sales, a move towards fast fashion (more “see now, buy now”) and of course establish a greater digital sales presence. The company also plans to close about 50 stores, or about 10% of its retail presence, and layoff about 1,000 jobs. The idea is with a slimmer and stronger and more diversely experienced as well as up to date leadership team, the company can chart a new course strengthening the core brands. To help guide this blistering effort of marketing and commercial shifting, the company plans to create two new executive positions.
Jonathan Bottomley has been named chief marketing officer (CMO), a position widely held by international companies that many felt the international company, especially one of that size, sorely lacked. The idea is to use innovative and cutting edge marketing techniques to strengthen the brand voice in a global context. Considered a bit of a luxury and consumer specialist from his time at U.K. ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Mr. Bottomley was recently the chief strategy officer of virtue, at Virtue Worldwide, the in house advertising agency of Vice Media the controversial and eccentric Canadian-American digital media and broadcasting company.
Another position called “Brand President” was created for Tom Mendenhall, previously COO (Chief operating officer) at Tom Ford International, but also experienced in sermon management at Gucci and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. The role entails supervising and evolving RL’s core brands Men’s Polo, Purple Label and Double RL worth from a design and merchandising perspective. Basically taking measures to help improve sales of the all male focused brands. Especially the lower priced brands now under fire from competitors like H&M and Zara.
The hiring of both executives mark a change of direction from the hiring of outgoing CEO Larsson’s area of expertise, the pair can call upon their experience with huger-end fashion brands contrasting Larsson’s time at H&M and Old Navy.
“As we write our next chapter, we continue to add exceptionally strong leaders with the passion, energy, and talent to lead our company into the future,” founder Ralph Lauren said in statement. “Both Jonathan and Tom bring a fresh perspective and incredible depth of brand experience to Ralph Lauren. They each have impressive track records and we are looking forward to welcoming them into our leadership as our evolution continues.”
Ralph Lauren is still in the market for a new CEO.