Ralph Lauren Names New CEO

After several months of searching Ralph Lauren has found a new CEO: Patrice Louvet, formerly of Procter & Gamble’s beauty division.

Writes New York Magazine:

Louvet, who will start on July 17, comes from Procter & Gamble’s global beauty business. He will report to Ralph Lauren, who said in a statement, “Finding the right partner to work with me to take us forward in our evolution has been my primary focus over the last several months and I am thrilled that Patrice is joining our talented team.”

The past two appointments for Ralph Lauren CEO come from outside of fellow luxury brands. But in over 25 years at P&G, Louvet has overseen the beauty division, grooming division, and prestige division, which includes lines from Gucci and Hugo Boss.

Ralph Lauren has been in the middle of its “Way Forward Plan” turnaround campaign for the past several years. The plan includes focusing on e-commerce, shutting down its Polo flagship store, and developing new store formats such as a café-bookstore hybrid.

And Bloomberg reports:

The pick failed to comfort Wall Street. The shares fell as much as 3.3 percent to $71.51 in New York trading Wednesday, reaching its lowest level since July 2010. The stock had already declined 18 percent this year through Tuesday’s close.

The tepid reception could mean that “investors expected someone with a slightly different professional background, and more meaningful track record in apparel and the fashion industry,” said Chen Grazutis, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “That doesn’t mean he can’t be very successful in this role.”

Ralph Lauren has been seeking a new CEO since the abrupt announcement in February that Larsson was leaving. Chief Financial Officer Jane Nielsen served as interim chief during the search.

Louvet is getting a big raise after his P&G job. He’ll collect a $1.25 million annual salary, according to a regulatory filing. Louvet also is eligible for a yearly target bonus of $3.75 million and equity grants worth $7.5 million, both depending on company performance.

The target package is more than twice as high as what he received in his last full year at P&G.

Louvet will also get sign-on awards worth about $12.6 million this year, including $3.38 million in cash. The remainder comes in shares, of which $6.59 million vest if the company achieves certain financial goals and $2.6 million vest after five years regardless of performance. His contract also gives him a $30,000 allowance to pay for his children’s schooling and six weeks of vacation.

Best of luck to Mr. Louvet, Mr. Lauren, and this great American brand. — CC

45 Comments on "Ralph Lauren Names New CEO"

  1. Mark Russell | May 18, 2017 at 12:14 pm |

    Any pictures of Mr. Louvet?
    What is his personal style of dress?

  2. Gucci and Hugo Boss……

  3. Good night, sweet Polo…

  4. Vladimir C. Stanojevic | May 18, 2017 at 1:15 pm |

    @ Christian – As somebody with more than a passing familiarity with P&G’s corporate culture and internet marketing circa 2005-2007, I’d say that he looks about par for the course…

    @ GS – Seconded

    Taking on somebody from P&G (even if French and from P&Gs luxury fragrance division) to turn PRL around is going from the frying-pan into the fire. P&G’s fundamental business model is one of using hot-air to peddle soap making one wonder how somebody from that sort of culture/environment can do anything but deliver the coup de grâce to the most iconic American menswear brand of the last 50 years.

    For God’s sake, couldn’t at least somebody from Gant, Gucci or LVHM or somewhere else actually dealing with menswear have been brought in? Even somebody from Hugo Boss would have been a better choice in my view.

    Is it now J. Press or bust?

  5. I think RL will be fine; I, for one, will continue to purchase his products when I am in the market for non-business attire. The MBA in me says that they need to do some additional corporate consolidation and retraction–too many lines that are too similar to one another–and they probably need to focus more on advertising/positioning themselves as a heritage brand rather than an aspirational brand (which will be an anathema to Ralph, but it’s where they are in their corporate life cycle and where their customer base is). Just my humble .02 worth.

  6. Marc Chevalier | May 18, 2017 at 1:26 pm |

    If the man is a true-blue BCBG, then there is hope.

  7. Vladimir C. Stanojevic | May 18, 2017 at 1:34 pm |

    @ Josh – Sound, sober, reality-based analysis and advice. The problem is that what you rightly suggest PRL do isn’t what P&G’s way of doing things is all about – i.e. differentiating via marketing indifferent, almost perfectly elastic, consumer products across the whole of society.

  8. Isn’t that what RL has already been doing for the last several years? Touche, I know. 🙂

  9. Vladimir C. Stanojevic | May 18, 2017 at 1:39 pm |

    Bingo! So is presumably more of the same any sort of answer?

  10. Give Patrice a chance. You never know–you might be surprised.

  11. Mitchell S. | May 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm |

    “Developing..a cafe-bookstore hybrid.” Yikes! Good luck competing against Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

  12. I fear that Polo’s end is near, CC. I don’t see them turning around, sadly.

  13. They devalued their own brand. How do you put the genie back into the bottle? Most of Polo’s merchandise can be had for pennies on the dollar from a big box retailer or outlet stores. Tailoring aside, a Polo store has little to offer save high prices.

  14. As recently as a few years ago, Polo offered seamless made-in-Scotland shetland crewnecks, wool challis ties galore, repp ties in interesting colorways and stripe patterns, a fantastic pair of khakis (the G.I. Pant), one of the better OCBDs (yes, the collar rolled), and reasonably priced polo shirts. And Indian (bleeding) madras shirts and shorts.

    But that was a while ago.

    I agree that if his taste tends BCBG, there’s hope.

  15. Vern Trotter | May 18, 2017 at 6:28 pm |

    The newest one may be trimming it down for a takeover. If Bezos can buy the Washington Post, stranger things are happening these days.

  16. It sure has been a long time since I last purchased a Polo-branded item. (Maybe I’m no longer in the target demographic.) Heck, I’m not sure what they could do to grab my attention once again.

  17. Steve, look at the photo, even if it’s more Savile Row and Old Hollywood. Do you have a proper RL store near you?

    The flannels, the tassel loafers, the ties, the pocket squares, and there’s always a tweed or spring jacket to die for.

    And the home collection?

  18. I agree that there are select items offered by Polo each season that grab my attention. However, the quality has taken a dive on the whole and is at best a mixed bag these days. What bothers me the most is the fit of the clothing. The clothes all have slim, modern, low-rise cuts. The brand still offers nice ties, good shoes and an occasional nice sport coat, I just wish that their entire line was appealing as it once was. They still decorate their stores beautifully, as shown, and I wish that I could buy more from them. I do still wear their OCBDs which have a nice roll even at 2.75″.

  19. Vern Trotter | May 18, 2017 at 7:51 pm |

    “…it’s possible Ralph Lauren is positioning itself to be bought.”
    — Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, NPD Group.

    Amazon has been looking at Macy’s all year but is hesitating because Macy’s owns so much real estate. Hudson Bay Companies wants Macy’s also but can’t quite swing it to add to Saks and Lord & Taylor.

    Who mentioned cafe–bookstore hybrid?

  20. The cafe-bookstore is mentioned in the part of the article quote shown here. You bring up another point, all these stores are owned by the same companies. Lords and Saks and one company as is Bloomingdales and Macy’s. If they were to combine, that would be a nightmare.

  21. The brand can’t decide what it wants to be. Happens with any mature company that attempts to expand via licensing and multiple lines. They’ve been flirting with A&F sized logos. They’re RLX brand can’t compete with Lacoste, Nike, etc. I still like they’re khakis particularly the slim fit cut, although they don’t quote feel as good as they once did. Even the OCBD’s I still have from 20 years ago feel better than their recent creations. The cotton they’re using isn’t as thick and doesn’t soften as well over time. My first PT job was to work a few hours a week for their footwear outlet (licensed by Reebok/Rockport) so needless to say I had a closet full of great pieces due to a 40% off discount. I could walk out with 20 pieces for a couple hundred $. Polo’s marketing arm needs a complete overhaul and they must find out who they want to be.

  22. Wow, too many martooni’s. Excuse the typos!

  23. @Vern “The newest one may be trimming it down for a takeover.”

    Sound.

    Speculations as to whom?

  24. To be honest, I was hoping that they would bring in a female executive with experience from one of the other high-end fashion houses that has made great strides with accessories in particular.

    The reason I say this is because that is what tends to be the key to financial strength in the industry today. RL has tried to do it with the “Ricky” purse, but they still haven’t been able to really nail it like Cartier has with the Love Bracelet, or Hermes has with its belts and ties, or Goyard with its wallets.

    I love everything about trad and the clothes people who read this blog want. Quality, collar-rolls, well-cut tweeds etc. However in 2017, those characteristics no longer drive major revenue. That being said, we will be much more likely to see them again as portfolio parts of the business once the proper measures to build the company’s profitability are put in place.

  25. A few years ago Ralph worked with a “shed weaver” in Scotland. I’ll remember the name of the fellow. Ralph and his team designed some of the best looking tweeds ever. Leftovers ended up at Brookyn’s Tip-Top (fabric shop). I bought a few yards of an oatmeal-cream herringbone. The yarn was heavy (typical of Harris Tweed) but the weave was, for lack of a better word, looser than usual. Which rendered a more porous, breathable tweed. There’s no way it was designed by accident. Ralph had an eye for what makes a cloth and a cut (pattern) unique. Most of his customers–maybe especially the outlet store crowd–had no appreciation for the details that made his clothing so great. Just try to find an oxford cloth that’s superior to the stuff he used for his shirts back in the 80s. It’s not the fine-yarned “Supima” Garland is using to make Brooks’ oxfords.

  26. I accept the Great Man theory of history–more particularly as it relates to business. What happens when the children of leaders whose imagination, charisma, vision, and creativity inspired the early success?

    More often than not, it ain’t so good. The world of men’s clothing is replete with evidence.

  27. Charlottesville | May 19, 2017 at 10:56 am |

    S.E. – Agreed regarding the common fate of companies when the founder passes control to the kids, but thankfully there were exceptions or Brooks and Press would not have lasted into our lifetimes. I wish good things for Polo, but am not altogether hopeful. Still, the building of the brand from scratch and the excellence of most of the clothing for 40 years or so is quite an achievement even if it does not last forever. I regularly bought suits there up until around 2007 (often at the end-of-season sales). While I have more or less given up on their tailored clothing, I still stop by the Rhinelander mansion when in Manhattan hoping for a nice tie or pocket square.

  28. A Frenchman named Patrice. Who better to rescue a quintessential American brand from irrelevance.

    Today white Gitman Brothers oxford, well worn Duckheads reds from late 80s, BB 3/2 blue blazer, BB cordovan loafers, no tie or socks.

    Will

  29. And matching cordovan belt I assume, Will?

  30. With a large buckle adorned with rhinestones in the shape of Texas.

    Will

  31. Just kidding. Trafalgar engine turned with initials. I forgot about the grin which comes from the knowledge that there is a weekend of beach going and sailing forthcoming.

    Cheers,

    Will

  32. I have the same belt, I’ll let you figure out which one I’m talking about. Enjoy your weekend, sounds nice.

  33. Grin or gin?

    Both. Wish I was out on the water this weekend, will settle for a black tie party tonight, incidentally my black tie and cummerbund are Polo.

  34. Vern Trotter | May 19, 2017 at 4:59 pm |

    Ralph would take a giant step forward if he would not put that wretched logo on everything.

  35. Vern, how many logos do you see in the photo above?

  36. Old Ivy Dude | May 19, 2017 at 7:47 pm |

    Everyone seems to forget that there are two levels at RL. The items we all like and logo-covered stuff at Macy’s and the mall. The commoditized items are what really drives the revenues. That’s what’s hurting. Who better than someone who specializes in commodity products to turn that side around?

  37. Vern Trotter | May 20, 2017 at 12:21 am |

    Christian,

    Many times I would have purchased his items,especially shirts and sweaters, that I did not because of the logo. Most egregious are dress shirts that should have nothing over the left breast except a gentleman’s initials if he so chooses.

    Good coverage on the new CEO.

  38. Vladimir C. Stanojevic | May 20, 2017 at 7:40 pm |

    @ Vern – Back-ally horse-ectomies were popular in some rarefied circles. Un-laundered shirt plus an absolutely flat-bottomed drinks glass plus a Gillette and you might as well have gone to Brooks…

    Monograms? Had an acquaintance once who insisted that they only belong at the hem. Despite his being a real-life Rick von Sloneker, I cannot help but think that he had something like a point.

  39. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | May 21, 2017 at 5:36 pm |

    There’s Polo Ralph Lauren:
    http://www.ivy-style.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Ralph_polo_flagship_NYC_5.jpg

    Then there’s just Ralph Lauren (the one’s with the purple tag and the cursive font):
    http://www.ivy-style.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/dream-house-slide-5-1024×698.jpg

  40. The sad thing is that Polo used to be all of that, Chewie. Now it’s just “downtown flair.”

  41. Maybe “a lot” or even “mostly,” but not “just.” Reveals your tendency to condemn via oversimplification, GS.

    When I was your age my first English professor said something like, “I wish I were young enough to be this angry at the world.”

  42. I’m just disappointed with Polo and, yes, I was oversimplifying. But as many have said on here before, you now have to sift through many bad items to get to the few remaining good items at Polo. It didn’t used to be that way from what I’ve heard.

    I can’t gripe about Brooks Brothers, as I have never been a regular customer there, but I’ve been wearing Polo since I was months old.

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