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Ralph Lauren Chief Commercial Officer Resigns in Wake of Misconduct Allegations

Howard Smith, a 20-year veteran of the company, stepped down immediately following an investigation.
Ralph Lauren executive Howard Smith stepped down from his role in March after misconduct accusations.
Ralph Lauren executive Howard Smith stepped down from his role in March after misconduct accusations. (Shutterstock)

A top Ralph Lauren executive has resigned from the US-based fashion company, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing said that Chief Commercial Officer Howard Smith’s departure was unrelated to business performance, but instead connected to allegations of personal misconduct.

Ralph Lauren hired an outside council to investigate the allegations, which revealed that Smith apparently violated the company’s internal code of conduct, as well as “other policies.” The board asked him to resign.

”We are saddened by this situation and recognise that this news will come as a surprise,” CEO Patrice Louvet said in a memo to employees. “Howard has contributed significantly to the evolution of our company for the past 20 years, and we are grateful for that.”

A replacement for Smith, who will step down immediately but leave officially April 2, has not been named. Several of his regional reports, who oversee day-to-day operations in different areas of the world, will work directly with Louvet in lieu of the absence.

Smith, who spent 20 years at Ralph Lauren running supply chain and logistics, as well as international markets, is the second prominent American executive to leave his post this week after allegations of ethics violations. Estée Lauder’s John Demsey was fired after posting an offensive meme on Instagram.

Learn more:

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