The top executive at Gap Inc.’s fastest growing division, Old Navy, has resigned to become CEO of Ralph Lauren.
Gap Inc. said that Stefan Larsson would step down as global president of Old Navy effective October 2, 2015, and the division would be led on an interim basis by Jill Stanton, executive VP of global product at Old Navy.
Minutes later the other shoe dropped when the Ralph Lauren Corporation announced that Ralph Lauren was stepping down and that Larsson would become CEO in November and also join the board. He will report to Lauren, who will continue to drive the company’s vision and strategy as executive chairman and chief creative officer.
“Stefan Larsson is exceptionally talented, and he will bring our company a fresh and exciting global perspective,” Lauren said in a statement. “Stefan and I have a strong personal bond and share a vision for the future of Ralph Lauren. I appreciate Stefan’s unique sensibility, his honesty and his authenticity. We have had tremendous success expanding the Ralph Lauren brands around the world and creating a great management team. Now, all the pieces are in place to position our business for continued growth. We have been a leader in our industry for nearly 50 years, and this is just the beginning.”
Larsson is an interesting choice for the upscale Ralph Lauren fashion empire considering his prior two employers were fast fashion players, which emphasize low price points over quality materials. He spent three years at Old Navy and prior to that 15 years with H&M.
Under his leadership, Old Navy enjoyed three consecutive years of profitable growth, adding $1 billion in sales, according to Ralph Lauren. During his time at H&M, Larsson was part of the team that grew sales from $3 billion to $17 billion and expanded the company’s operations from 12 to 44 countries.
Undeterred by the departure of Larsson, Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck said a search is underway for a new global brand president and characterized interim Old Navy chief Stanton as a proven industry veteran with more than 25 years experience, including almost 14 years at Nike where she served as vice president and general manager of global apparel.
“We have an impressive team at Old Navy, with some of the best creative and business talent in the industry, and they are delivering consistent results,” said Peck. “We have a clear strategy in place, and I have every confidence the brand will continue to build on its momentum and realize its substantial growth potential.”