There is an old adage that notes that if you can ‘t beat ’em, you should join ’em. Perhaps when applied to the modern retail sphere, that particular aphorism should be expanded to include:
“Unless you can buy them, or some of their valuable assets. Try that before joining.”
That modern edition seems to be something like the strategy that Ralph Lauren is working as it attempts to put its new announced “Way Forward Plan” into action. Following the announcement that is intended to turn around fortunes at the flagging retail brand, Ralph Lauren Corp. has named three new senior executives who will help oversee it.
Jane Nielsen will start her tenure as CFO in September. Nielsen comes to RL care of Coach, where she currently serves as executive VP and CFO. Her areas of responsibility will encompass all finance functions at Ralph Lauren, as well as overseeing store operations, procurement, IT and investor relations. The firm’s current CFO, Robert L. Madore, will remain with the company through the end of September.
But Nielsen is the headliner to what has been some pretty active recruiting efforts on Ralph Lauren’s part. Amazon vet Bill Campbell will take on the role of corporate senior VP of global supply chain and inventory management in early October. Campbell had been an Amazon long-timer, having spent over a decade in distribution and logistics leadership roles. He brings particular expertise to managing inventory, improving supply chain performance and reducing delivery times for customers.
The final element of the new RL power triumverate will be Jeffrey Kuster, formerly of HSN, Inc., Fruit of the Loom, Inc. and VF Corp. Kuster will lead all commercial activities for the Americas region, including wholesale, retail, eCommerce, factory, travel retail and Latin America.
“We are thrilled to have attracted these three high-performance leaders – all of whom have best-in-class knowledge that is directly aligned to our Way Forward Plan,” noted Stefan Larsson, Ralph Lauren CEO. “With Jane’s key role as a change agent at Coach, Bill’s supply chain experience at Amazon, and Jeff’s track record of building high-quality omnichannel sales for leading consumer brands, we will be even better positioned to strengthen our underlying business engines and drive profitable sales and shareholder returns.”
The big personnel changes follow founder Ralph Lauren admitting his namesake firm had “dropped the ball” at its first investor presentation last week. The firm, however, remains hopeful that its “Way Forward Plan” will be key to turning things around. Apart from the big reshuffle at the top, the firm will also be closing 50 retail locations.