Ralph Lauren hands off CEO role

NEW YORK – Ralph Lauren is handing off his title as CEO of the fashion and home decor empire that he founded nearly 50 years ago.

The New York-based company announced Tuesday that Stefan Larsson, the global president of Gap’s thriving low-price Old Navy chain, will take on the role. The change will be effective in November, and Larsson will report to Lauren who will continue to drive the company’s vision and strategy as executive chairman and chief creative officer.

As global president of Old Navy for three years, Larsson remade the business into a bright spot in Gap’s portfolio. Prior to his tenure at Old Navy, Larsson was part of an executive team at Swedish cheap chic fashion chain H&M for 15 years that increased annual revenue to $17 billion from $3 billion. During that time, H&M’s operations grew to 44 countries from 12.

In an interview with Lauren in his luxurious wood-paneled office in Midtown Manhattan, the iconic 75-year-old designer emphasized that he’s not slowing down but sees Larsson, 41, as a partner as the company spearheads future sales growth.

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

Asked whether he chose Larsson because of his success in fast fashion, Lauren acknowledged he was a good businessman but more importantly they shared a common vision.