Ralph Lauren Corporation is galloping at a faster clip than when its namesake founder first entered the arena some 45 years ago. With golden mallet brands such as Polo by Ralph Lauren, Chaps, Rugby, RRL, Club Monaco, and RLX Ralph Lauren, the company designs and markets apparel and accessories, home furnishings, and fragrances. Its collections are available at some 11,000 locations worldwide, including many upscale and mid-tier department stores. (Macy's accounts for 20% of all wholesale revenue.) The company operates about 380 Ralph Lauren and Club Monaco retail stores worldwide as well as half a dozen e-commerce sites. American style icon and CEO Lauren controls the company.
Based in New York, Ralph Lauren operates in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea, China, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. The Americas account for 66% of revenue while Europe and Asia generate 21% and 13% in revenue, respectively.
As part of its business, Ralph Lauren operates through three segments: Wholesale, Retail, and Licensing. It generates wholesale sales from major department stores and specialty stores located throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The company also sells directly to consumers through retail stores located throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America; through concession-based shop-within-shops located primarily in Asia and Europe; and via its retail e-commerce channel in North America, Europe, and Asia. Ralph Lauren also licenses to unrelated third parties the right to operate retail stores and to use its trademarks in connection with making and selling designated products, such as apparel, eyewear, and fragrances in specified geographical areas for specified periods.
In recent years Ralph Lauren has expanded its business through acquisitions, extended the reach of its retail operations, and experienced organic growth. Its accessories business rivals European competitors as a luxury brand, thanks to strategic partnerships with licensees including Richemont SA (to form Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry Co.) and the Italian eyewear giant Luxottica Group, which designs, manufactures, and distributes Ralph Lauren-branded prescription frames and sunglasses. Luxottica's US arm also makes Club Monaco-branded prescription frames and sunglasses sold in the US and Canada. Other major licensing partners include Hanes (under garments and sleepwear), L'Oréal (fragrance), and Warnaco (Chaps sportswear). With its products available in every section of a department store -- there's even Ralph Lauren paint at Home Depot -- the company remains profitable as a leader in the fashion and retail industry. Macy's accounts for 20% of Ralph Lauren's wholesale sales. By mutual agreement, Ralph Lauren and JC Penney, which markets mid-priced American Living-branded clothes and housewares through a partnership with the upscale brand, ended their relationship effective in Q4 fiscal 2012. Ralph Lauren is able to bring its classic American style to the global market as an official outfitter of the US Olympic team. It has counted on its association with the Olympics to translate into millions of dollars in sales of Olympics-branded apparel and accessories. The company extended the deal through the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and beyond.
To support other high-growth business opportunities and initiatives, Ralph Lauren in 2012 began to wind down its Rugby brand retail operations. As part of the closure plan, 13 of the company’s 14 global freestanding Rugby stores and its related domestic e-commerce site, Rugby.com, were closed during fiscal 2013. The one remaining Rugby store is expected to be shuttered during fiscal 2014.
Sales and Marketing
Ralph Lauren, which in fiscal 2013 spent $217 million on advertising and promotions, sells its branded products worldwide through about 11,000 doors. Its primary wholesale businesses sells Ralph Lauren products to leading upscale and mid-tier department stores, specialty stores, and golf and pro shops, both domestically and internationally. Some 44% of its licensing revenue in fiscal 2013 was earned from four licensing partners: PVH Corp., Luxottica Group, Peerless, and L'Oreal.
Ralph Lauren sells its products through e-commerce sites, as well, that are operated by wholesale customers. Ralph Lauren primarily wholesales menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, accessories, and home furnishings. Through a limited number of premier fashion retailers, the company peddles its collection brands worldwide. In North America, department stores are a major wholesale customer. In Latin America, wholesale products are sold in department stores and specialty stores. In Europe, Ralph Lauren wholesales to both department stores and specialty stores, depending on the country. Also part of its sales efforts, Ralph Lauren distributes products to licensed stores operated by franchisees in Europe and Asia.
Ralph Lauren revenue rose 1% in fiscal 2013 as compared to 2012 due to higher retail business revenues offset by sliding wholesale sales and net unfavorable foreign currency effects. The company's retail segment's revenue increased 6%, thanks to rising consolidated comparable store sales on a constant currency basis, primarily driven by increases from North American and European factory stores and Ralph Lauren e-commerce operations. These gains, however, were partially offset by declining comparable store sales from Ralph Lauren stores and Asian concession shops. New store openings during the past twelve months and the growth of Ralph Lauren's e-commerce operations (through launched Ralph Lauren e-commerce sites in Germany and Japan and Club Monaco e-commerce sites in North America) also contributed to sales increases. The effect of these new openings and launches offset the impact of store closings in the Asia-Pacific region due to the company's network repositioning initiative. Licensing revenues increased by 1% during the reporting period, attributable to larger apparel and fragrance-related royalties.
The manufacturer logged $750 million in net income in fiscal 2013, representing a 10% increase as compared to 2012. Ralph Lauren points to rising net sales and increasing income from continuing operations for the gains.
It invested approximately $40 million of capital in related shop-within-shops primarily in domestic and international department and specialty stores.
Mergers and Acquisitions
To give the apparel maker more control of its operations in Asia, Ralph Lauren has been buying out its licensees. In 2011 the company acquired its South Korean wholesale and retail distribution operation from licensee Doosan Corp. for about $47 million. It bought out its licensing partner Dickson Concepts in a deal valued at about $37 million in 2009. Dickson was a licensee for the Polo brand in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. Ralph Lauren also acquired the children's wear and golf apparel inventory of former licensee, Naigai Co. Ltd., based in Japan.
Ralph Lauren controls the company through his ownership of about 84% of the voting shares of the company. Previously, Lauren had disclosed plans in 2010 to sell more than a quarter of his holdings as "part of his individual asset diversification plan." Despite possibly netting about $955 million through the sale, the chief executive still maintains a large enough stake to remain in control of the company. Around this time, as well, the company changed its name by dropping the Polo from its Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation.