Ralph Lauren Corp. on Wednesday announced several senior appointments that the company said will help expand its digital presence globally. Alice Delahunt in April will take on the newly created role of chief digital officer, reporting directly to CEO Patrice Louvet and serving on the executive leadership team, according to a company press release. She arrives from Burberry, where she served as director of digital marketing and led digital innovation on social media globally.
Laura Porco worked at Amazon for 12 years, leading the Kindle Books and MYHABIT.com launches before running e-commerce for Ralph Lauren's Club Monaco brand. Porco has been named senior vice president of e-commerce for Ralph Lauren North America. Galen Hardy arrives from Zappos where he oversaw apparel merchandising and will be senior vice president, Club Monaco e-commerce and business operations. And Valeria Juarez — the company’s senior vice president, e-commerce (Europe, Middle East and Africa) since 2016 and before that held various senior roles at Amazon U.K. and Diageo — will be senior vice president of e-commerce, international.
The company is also fortifying its tech team. Chief Information Officer Janet Sherlock joined the company in August from Carter’s, where she also served as CIO. Cyrus Fenton will join her team as senior vice president, IT security and infrastructure and chief information security officer. He was previously at Books-A-Million, where he led the omnichannel digital business and oversaw all aspects of information technology, according to the release.
Ralph Lauren has been beset by over-discounting at department stores, off-price retailers and its own outlets, which has dinged both margins and the brand. The company's first attempt at a reset, led by former Old Navy chief Stefan Larsson for not quite two years, was interrupted in 2017 when it shifted gears and named Louvet as CEO instead.
There are some signs that the ship is righting. Scaling back costs and discounts paid off for the brand in its second quarter when adjusted earnings rose 4.7% from Q2 2016 and beat analyst expectations. Ralph Lauren’s net revenue in the quarter fell 8.6% (9% currency neutral) to $1.66 billion. That, too, beat the analyst forecast, which was for $1.65 billion, and fell in line with the company's guidance.
It’s not so rosy at home though, as the retreat from discounts and department stores appeared to chase some customers away. North American revenue fell 16% to $877 million in Q2. Same-store sales in North America fell 9%, including a 6% decline in brick-and-mortar store sales and an 18% decrease in e-commerce.
On Thursday, Ralph Lauren is bringing back its Limited Edition Polo Snow Beach sub-label, with original and updated pieces from the popular 1993 collection, a happier time for the brand. But the company can't afford to go backward when it comes to e-commerce. Along with a correction to physical store operations — which includes shuttering stores as well as cutting wholesale sales to other physical retailers — these hires signal a decided shift to online.
"We are moving urgently to expand our digital presence all over the world and bringing in the right senior talent to help us deliver," Louvet said in a statement. "We have to meet consumers where they are, which is increasingly online, and digital expansion is one critical way we will drive new growth for our iconic business and brand."