Ralph Lauren CEO Exits Abruptly Over Creative Differences With Founder

Stefan Larsson Ralph Lauren
Stefan Larsson, Ralph Lauren.
REX Shutterstock.

Well, that was fast.

After making a grand entrance to the firm in November 2015 and replacing its founder and longtime leader, Ralph Lauren president and CEO Stefan Larsson is making his exit.

The company announced today that Larsson — who came to Ralph Lauren after heading up a robust turnaround at former global president of Old Navy — would depart on May 1. Meanwhile, the company would continue to forge ahead with the “Way Forward” plan implemented by Larsson last June.

Ralph Lauren, who held on to his executive chairman and chief creative officer roles after shedding his CEO title, hinted that creative differences led to Larsson’s departure.

Stefan and I share a love and respect for the DNA of this great brand, and we both recognize the need to evolve,” Lauren said in a release. “However, we have found that we have different views on how to evolve the creative and consumer-facing parts of the business.”

Lauren added that “many conversations with one another, and our board of directors” led to a mutual decision to part ways but acknowledged that Larsson set the firm in “the right direction with the Way Forward Plan.”

In the meantime, Ralph Lauren CFO Jane Nielsen will lead the execution of the plan until a new CEO joins the company.

In June, we announced a plan to refocus the company on what made it iconic, evolve that for today and build our brand to its full potential,” Larsson said in a release. “That plan is on track — I am proud of the progress the whole team has made and I am committed to ensuring its uninterrupted execution. Ralph will always be an inspiration to me, and I am grateful to have had this experience.”

The company also announced third-quarter earnings result today: Sales were in line with expectations, while earnings were better than expected.

As of 10:45 a.m. today, Ralph Lauren’s shares were down more than 11 percent, to $77.66.