- Ralph Lauren Chief Commercial Officer Howard Smith has resigned his position, according to a Securities and Exchange Commision document. The resignation is effective as of April 2.
- After an independent investigation, Smith was found to have violated the company's code of business conduct and ethics and other policies, according to SEC documentation. The company's board then concluded Smith's resignation was necessary.
- Ralph Lauren himself, who is executive chairman and chief creative officer, and Patrice Louvet, who is CEO, released a letter to employees Wednesday announcing Smith's departure. "We are saddened by this situation and recognize that this news will come as a surprise," they wrote. The company declined to comment further in response to an inquiry from Retail Dive.
After 20 years with Ralph Lauren, Smith is stepping down from his current role of chief commercial officer.
Smith began as the company's vice president of logistics and operations in Europe and worked in various leadership roles including as its president of Asia Pacific and group president of international before becoming the chief commercial officer, according to Smith's LinkedIn page.
Following allegations made concerning Smith's personal conduct, Ralph Lauren launched an investigation with the assistance of outside counsel. The investigation revealed that Smith violated the company's code of conduct and other policies and "it was decided that Howard would resign," the letter to employees stated.
The resignation is unrelated to the company's financial reporting and business performance.
Regional leaders will report on an interim basis directly to Louvet, and a more detailed plan on the organizational structure is forthcoming.