NEW YORK — Lance Isham, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.’s vice chairman, will retire from the company in March.

A 22-year Polo veteran, Isham is credited with building Polo’s men’s wear business before turning his attention to the company’s European operations. Isham most recently was instrumental in spearheading the consolidation of the firm’s European operations and in establishing its new headquarters in Geneva.

“During the past 22 years, Lance made many invaluable and important contributions to the growth and development of our company,” said Ralph Lauren, chairman and chief executive officer of Polo, in a statement. The designer added, “Throughout his entire career with us, Lance has devoted his efforts to building a world-class company and enhancing the reach and power of our unique brand. He will truly be missed.”

According to sources, Isham’s plan when he moved to London in 2000 was to remain in Europe for a few years to oversee the growth of Polo’s business there before heading back to the U.S.

“I am pleased with the successful consolidation of our operations in Europe and the strong management team we have put in place to support our growth in this important market,” Isham said in an interview. “Being associated with Ralph Lauren and his talent, drive and vision and the dedicated people he has assembled in his company has been a remarkable experience.”

The vice chairman noted that some of the most rewarding experiences during his tenure at Polo concern co-workers and colleagues: “Seeing talented people who have grown through the years, that experience is as rewarding as the business accomplishments.”

Isham joined Polo in 1981 as a sales representative in Chicago. He held additional senior sales posts and in 1992 was promoted to executive vice president of the then-Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Co. After several more promotions within the men’s company and then at corporate, he moved on to the post of vice chairman in 2000. At the time of his appointment, Isham was the most senior executive of an American designer company to be relocated overseas. Polo executives said at the time that Isham’s transfer to Europe indicated the importance the company placed on the future growth potential of its overseas operations.The company said Tuesday that Brian Duffy, president and chief operating officer of Polo Europe, will continue to have responsibility for all day-to-day operations, and will now report directly to Roger Farah, president and chief operating officer of Polo. Duffy is based in Geneva.

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