Ralph Lauren RTW Spring 2020

Ralph Lauren Corp. said the coronavirus retail freeze would take a $55 million to $70 million bite out of its fourth-quarter sales, driven by trends in China, Japan and South Korea. 

That’s a big blow to a business that logged $273 million in revenues from Asia in the period last year. 

And operating income for Asia, which tallied $38 million in the year-ago period, is expected to take a $35 million to $45 million hit in the fourth quarter, ending March 28.  

The company said about two-thirds of its stores in mainland China were closed over the past week and that it anticipates a “broader impact across its businesses in China and parts of Asia due to significantly reduced travel and retail traffic.”

Ralph Lauren also said supply-chain disruptions could impact “a small portion of the company’s fourth-quarter orders globally.”

All of that is largely in keeping with the dire reading of the situation from other big fashion companies, including Kering, PVH Corp., VF Corp., Tapestry Inc. and Capri Holdings.

“Our hearts are with the many impacted by this virus,” said Ralph Lauren, executive chairman and chief creative officer. “Our number-one priority is keeping our teams, partners and consumers safe.”

Patrice Louvet, president and chief executive officer, added: “Our dedicated teams are operating with agility in a highly dynamic situation, and we will continue to assess the implications for our business across retail, corporate and our supply base. While the health crisis creates near-term uncertainties, the fundamentals of our business are strong, and we continue to see significant long-term opportunities for growth in China and across Asia.”

Ralph Lauren, like many brands, has been rapidly expanding in China, where it has about 110 stores, including 37 opened during the third quarter. 

On Feb. 4, Louvet told WWD about half the fleet was closed due to the coronavirus

China accounts for less than 4 percent of Ralph Lauren’s business, which is a relatively low portion for higher-end fashion brands, but the ceo noted that it was “actually a blessing in today’s context.”

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