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Meichner Said Headed for Polo

NEW YORK — Polo Ralph Lauren is expected to announce this week that Wayne Meichner will join the company to run its retail division, according to reports in the market.<br><br>Meichner, who left Saks Fifth Avenue as executive vice president of...

NEW YORK — Polo Ralph Lauren is expected to announce this week that Wayne Meichner will join the company to run its retail division, according to reports in the market.

Meichner, who left Saks Fifth Avenue as executive vice president of merchandising in May after a 23-year career at the store, will be reunited with Roger Farah, president and chief operating officer of Polo, who served as general merchandise manager of men’s wear at SFA when Meichner was a buyer.

Reached at his home in Connecticut last week, Meichner said he had “accepted a position,” but declined to specify the company or post involved. Farah did not return phone calls seeking comment last week.

Sources said Polo was waiting until this week to announce Meichner’s appointment because many of its executives were on vacation last week. Bridget Ryan Berman is currently president and chief operating officer of the Polo Retail Group, and the sources said that a number of internal changes will be made this week as a result of Meichner’s appointment. Meichner is expected to begin at Polo on Sept. 9.

Berman, who was named to the post in June 2001, has been overseeing the regular-price stores as well as the outlets. Before the promotion, she was president of Polo Factory Store Concepts and was responsible for all Polo Ralph Lauren and Polo Jeans Co. outlets.

As of June 29, 2002, Polo operated 237 stores, consisting of 39 Polo Ralph Lauren stores, 54 Club Monaco stores, 93 outlets, 22 Polo Jeans Co. outlet stores, 19 European outlet stores and 10 Club Monaco outlet stores.

Sources said Meichner is unlikely to be involved with Club Monaco, Polo’s troubled specialty store division, which is run separately. John Mehas is president and chief executive officer of the Club Monaco division.

The firm has been focused on growing its European business. In the past two years, that business has grown 60 percent, and the company believes it can be a $1 billion business within a few years, Farah said during a recent analysts’ call. Lance Isham, vice chairman, is spearheading overseas expansion from London.

Joining Saks in 1979, Meichner advanced to senior vice president and gmm of men’s wear, children’s, gifts, cosmetics and fragrances before becoming executive vice president in May 1999.