NEW YORK — Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. is expected to announce today that Kim Roy, former president of Ann Taylor Stores and a Liz Claiborne veteran, is joining as division president of Lauren by Ralph Lauren.
“We are excited about the tremendous growth opportunity Lauren represents for our company and are pleased to announce a strong team to lead our efforts,” Ralph Lauren, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Kim is one of the most talented wholesale and retail executives and her record of success in establishing and growing women’s businesses makes her the perfect leader of this important business.”
Polo is reorganizing and staffing up to relaunch Lauren by Ralph Lauren for next spring, after Jones Apparel Group relinquished the license this month. Along with the hiring on Roy, Benny Lin was named senior vice president of merchandising and manufacturing of Lauren by Ralph Lauren. Lin was corporate senior vice president and creative director of Jones.
Jones is supplying Lauren by Ralph Lauren to stores through the fall. But Roy and Lin must hustle to create a new line by the fall, to show retailers in time for spring deliveries. “There is much to do, but Kim is capable of making things happen fast,” said a source. “She can mobilize forces quickly and work her butt off.”
Roy must build a team and infrastructure, and then reach out to establish relations with the department store community, as the new go-to person. At Claiborne, her responsibilities were largely covering “special market” merchandise headed for mass merchants and chains such as Sears, J.C. Penney and Target, but she still has relations with department stores.
Department stores are likely to hedge their bets with the spring ’04 line, and look for new labels to fill some of the space vacated by the Jones version of Lauren by Ralph Lauren. Jones itself will create a competing line. It is believed that Ralph Lauren wants to pull back on Lauren by Ralph Lauren, and that, coming out of the gate next spring, the collection won’t cover nearly as much selling space as it currently occupies. The Lauren by Ralph Lauren label is a better sportswear brand that also includes special sizes and dresses. Internally, it’s designated “Lauren Brands.”
Jones, whose overall volume last year was $4.3 billion, generated $548 million in its Lauren by Ralph Lauren collection in 2002. Last year, the $2.3 billion Polo collected $65 million in royalties from its Lauren, Ralph and Polo Jeans licenses with Jones.
“We quickly filled key positions with uniquely talented individuals who will focus on delivering high quality designs and revitalizing the Lauren brand,” commented Roger Farah, president and chief operating officer.
Roy most recently served as president of Ann Taylor Stores, but that run ended last January. The company said Roy resigned “for personal reasons.” There was speculation that Roy never felt comfortable with the culture at Ann Taylor, which is led by chairman J. Patrick Spainhour. Previously, she served for five years at Claiborne most recently as group president for the wholesale Liz Claiborne brands, special markets and accessories businesses.
Lin headed and started the marketing department for all of Jones Apparel Group’s better resources, including Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Ralph by Ralph Lauren and Jones New York brands. He created and headed in-store shop development for Jones Apparel Group. Prior to that, he was the creative director for Lauren by Ralph Lauren, where he launched the brand. Before Jones, Lin was with Macy’s East for 11 years, rising to vice president and fashion director.