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Polo hires vet Haupt to accelerate growth

NEW YORK — In a move designed to accelerate its announced plans for a major retail store expansion, Vicki Haupt has joined Polo Ralph Lauren as senior vp of home store development. She reports to Ken Rood, president of Ralph Lauren Home.

Haupt has an extensive upscale home furnishings retailing background, beginning with various positions at Bloomingdale's and rising to the position of operating vp, dmm for decorative home and domestics. She later was chief merchant and senior vp of Conran's Habitat and later became senior vp, gmm for a number of departments including decorative home at Bergdorf Goodman. She authored the expansion and renovation plans at Estee Lauder Cos.

In an interview with Home Textiles Today last March, Rood and Alfredo Paredes, senior vp, home design, creative services and Polo store development, discussed the company's plans for free-standing home stores as a significant vehicle for growth.

Haupt's appointment, Rood said, fits with the objective, and "Ralph [Lauren] wanted to bring more retail experience into the company."

The concept as outlined then and still in effect will enable the company "to tier our business," Rood explained. The Ralph Lauren home stores would have top-of-the-line product and the department store and furniture store distribution would have more mainstream, but still high-end merchandise.

As part of this objective, Ralph Lauren Home last year launched its rug, carpet and lamp programs as well as bath, window and decorative hardware.

In October, Roger Farah, president and coo of Polo Ralph Lauren, said the company sees "double-digit growth potential for the luxury segment" of its business compared with single-digit growth potential for its department store distribution. The vehicle for the double-digit growth, he said, would be the company's own stores, which will have about 80 percent of its merchandise mix in the luxury category.

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