NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren combined his role as chief executive of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. with elements of stand-up comedy and philosophy at the firm’s annual meeting at the St. Regis Hotel here Thursday.

In addition to one-liners, Lauren returned to the themes of controlling one’s own destiny and maintaining a “single point of view” during his 15-minute presentation.

Appearing energized, attired in a black single-breasted suit and white shirt, Lauren opened the meeting on a light note when he told shareholders, “Good morning. My name is Ralph Lauren. Wow, I sound really good.”

After that introduction, the discourse at the company’s sixth annual meeting as a public company flowed like a conversation among old friends.

Before turning to more serious issues, Lauren quipped: “I’m here the longest. When I started, I was the youngest. I’m still the youngest, right?”

Lauren said that the firm’s initial public offering six years ago was an event few would expect from a design house that began as a small men’s neckwear business.

“As soon as we went public, an investment banker asked me, ‘Where are you going to go?’ What he meant,” Lauren continued, “was that we were a mature brand. Well, in the last six years we’ve doubled profits and in the last year we’ve tripled our sales in Europe.”

For Lauren, the story of how the firm got this far goes much deeper than the fact that Polo is a “luxury brand, a quality brand and [that] we stand for something.”

Characterizing Polo as a team effort starting with Lauren and chief operating officer Roger Farah, Lauren said that everyone at Polo is united by a single vision and works from “one point of view,” Lauren said. “We know who our customer is and we’re a company standing firm with our point of view.

“Do we sell to all the stores that are hot, or do we sell to stores that know who we are? The reason I’m excited about retailing today is that it is in our hands. We are in control of our destiny,” Lauren said.As reported last week, the firm said that for the first time retail sales represented the majority of corporate volume. Retail generated $254.5 million of the company’s $477.7 million in first-quarter sales.

Lauren certainly had no regrets about licensing the Lauren by Ralph Lauren label to Jones Apparel Group 10 years ago, despite the recent stormy end to that relationship that resulted in Polo taking the label in-house.

“We created it and we designed it. We picked our partner Jones Apparel Group and we picked the best partner,” the chairman said.

But circumstances have changed. “Today, we are a company that has the know-how… Lauren is a $400 million business. Our team is lined up. We’re ready to go,” the designer said.

One previously undisclosed tidbit about Polo is that its dot-com operation, headed up by Lauren’s son David, was up 70 percent in the last year, and is now the company’s second-largest “store,” the ceo, assuming the role of proud father, pointed out.

Of course, Polo’s annual meeting would not be the same without shareholder queries, and the shareholders did not disappoint.

The most interesting comments came from Estelle Cohen, a shareholder and Polo customer. She pointed out several deficiencies that she observed as a customer, including the placement of Polo merchandise in a Bloomingdale’s store and the color of the logo in a Saks Fifth Avenue unit. She also suggested opening a Fifth Avenue store in the 50s, south of the company’s flagship on 77th Street.

Lauren said the firm has considered such a location but hadn’t pursued it vigorously.

Harry Korba, a shareholder from Yonkers, N.Y., wondered which of the two books that were published about Lauren was the more accurate portrayal.

“I don’t know,” Lauren said. “I didn’t read either one. They are unauthorized and for all I that I know, there could be three more this year.”

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