By  on September 12, 2011

PARIS — In a planned leadership change, Ralph Lauren Corp. has appointed John Hooks its new group president, Europe, effective immediately.

Previously, Hooks was deputy chairman and vice president at Giorgio Armani Group, a post he left last May after 11 years at the Italian firm.

To be based at Lauren’s European headquarters in Geneva, Hooks, 55, succeeds Brian Duffy, who headed the European business since 2003. During that time, it was transformed from a small, licensed operation to a fully consolidated and integrated business, setting the stage for rapid growth.

Duffy plans to remain with Lauren through the end of its fiscal year to ensure a smooth transition.

Lauren’s business in Europe has been on a strong growth track, generating revenues of $1.2 billion its latest fiscal year versus approximately $200 million a decade ago.

In recent years, the company has upgraded its wholesale distribution in Europe, opened luxurious boutiques — including two sumptuous units in Paris — and raised the brand profile with increased communications spending and events like the exhibition of vintage racing cars that wound up this summer at Les Arts Décoratifs here.

“I want to thank Brian for his dedication and leadership in supporting the growth of our business in Europe. His passion and commitment have been vital to our successes in this important market,” stated Ralph Lauren, chairman and chief executive officer. “John Hooks has an outstanding reputation and track record of developing and growing a global business. With his affinity for and knowledge of the luxury and European markets, I know he will play a significant role in the Ralph Lauren Corp. as we continue on our path of being one of the world’s leading luxury companies.”

Lauren recently said it would invest more than $1 billion into capital expenditures over the next three years, with the lion’s share of that amount going to grow the company’s store base internationally, particularly in Europe and through concession shops in China and Hong Kong.

“Over the past eight years, Brian has led a talented team of professionals who have successfully grown and expanded our European business. I am confident that under John’s direction, we will continue to build on our strengths as a premier multibrand, multichannel company in Europe,” added Roger Farah, Ralph Lauren’s president and chief operating officer.

Hooks joined Armani as corporate commercial and marketing director in 2000, after leaving his post as Jil Sander AG’s international director of sales.

His role at Armani was a new one, and he helped develop its global, multichannel global business.

In September 2009, Armani promoted Hooks from his deputy general manager title to deputy chairman. He also joined the board with responsibility for global strategy and markets and brand development. Hooks maintained his responsibilities for the group’s foreign subsidiaries. Hooks was instrumental in expanding all the designer’s brands globally, from the first Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani stores in India in 2008 to the biggest Giorgio Armani store in the world, on Milan’s Via Montenapoleone, and Emporio Armani’s first flagship in Moscow that same year.

Hooks began his fashion career with Gruppo GFT in Italy.

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