Ralph Lauren steps down as CEO of fashion brand he founded almost 50 years ago

Old Navy global president Stefan Larsson will take over the position 

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Ralph Lauren is stepping down as the CEO of his eponymous fashion empire, identified by its polo player logo, which he founded almost half a century ago in 1967.

Stefan Larsson, the global president of the Gap-owned budget chain Old Navy, will take over from Mr Lauren in November, according to Ralph Lauren. 

Mr Lauren will not, however, be entirely handing over the reigns to Ms Larsson, and will continue to drive the company’s vision and strategy as executive chairman and chief creative officer. 

Having spent three years at the helm of Old Navy, Mr Larsson has proven his mettle by turning the business into a bright spot in Gaps’ portfolio.

His role at Ralph Lauren comes after a 15-year stint at cheap-chic fashion chain H&M. There, he oversaw an increase in annual revenue from $3 billion to $17 billion, and a steep rise in store locations from 12 countries to 44. 

In a statement released on Tuesday, Mr Lauren hailed his successor as “exceptionally talented.” 

“My job is to think always about the future of our company and how to move it forward,” said Mr Lauren.

“Stefan Larsson is exceptionally talented, and he will bring our company a fresh and exciting global perspective.” 

Speaking later in his Manhattan office, the designer stressed that he is not slowing down, but rather that Mr Larsson will spearhead future sales growth as a partner. 

“I am here, and I am not leaving,” said Mr Lauren. “Stefan is coming to the company because I really believe he's going to be an interesting addition.” 

Addressing whether Mr Larsoon was chosen because of his success in fast fashion, Mr Lauren said he was a good businessman but that their common vision was more important.

“He understands what dreams are,” Lauren said. “In this business, it's about dreams because you are dreaming ahead and you're about progress and change and newness.” 

Mr Larsson will take over at a time of flux for the brand, as three new brands - Polo for Women, Polo Sport and Denim and Supply – have been established over the past two years.

The changes have been an apparent success, with Ralph Lauren generating sales of $7.5 billion in the latest fiscal year.

In the wake of Mr Larsson departure from Old Navy, the firm’s executive vice president of global product, Jill Stanton, will temporarily take his place until a permanent replacement is found.

Additional reporting by AP