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Ralph Lauren chief commercial officer exits following misconduct allegations

By Rachel Douglass

3 Mar 2022

Business

Image: Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren has announced one of its top executives has resigned following allegations that he violated the company’s code of conduct.

Howard Smith, Ralph Lauren’s chief commercial officer, had “significantly contributed to the evolution of [the] company”, according to its founder, Ralph Lauren. Outlined in a public letter to its team, Lauren said the company was “saddened” by the surprising news.

While details of the allegations were not revealed, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission stated his “personal conduct” had provoked “an independent investigation with the assistance of outside counsel”.

In the filings conclusion, Smith was found to have played a part in activity that violated the company’s code of ethics.

The company’s letter noted that the issues were not concerning its financials or performance. It further stated that leaders within the company had been informed of Smith’s impending departure, with additional plans of its interim organisational structure to be outlined in the near future.

Smith, who was with the company for 20 years, is the second high-level executive to have exited a large-scale company recently. John Demsey, a senior executive of Estée Lauder, was suspended by the beauty giant following his use of an Instagram post that contained a racial slur.

RALPH LAUREN