Private investment firm Comvest Partners acquires the financially troubled e-retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.
Ralph Lauren is officially changing the name of its web site to RalphLauren.com from Polo.com to reflect the wider assortment of merchandise available online. The company also plans to take customer service for the web site in house.
In the higher end of the fashion world, it’s always chic to bring about change and that is precisely what Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. is doing with its e-commerce site.
For starters, Ralph Lauren, No. 105 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is officially changing the name of its web site to RalphLauren.com from Polo.com to reflect the wider assortment of merchandise available online, the company says.
“We rebranded the name of our e-commerce site to better represent the broad array of luxury products now offered under the Ralph Lauren name,” chief financial officer Tracey Travis told Wall Street analysts on the company’s recent first quarter earnings call.
Ralph Lauren is also making plans to bring its online customer service program in house, beginning with a cost analysis in October or November. “This will reduce the cost of handling a customer order significantly because we will be doing that in house as opposed to third-partying it where it was a profit center for somebody else,” Ralph Lauren president and chief operating officer Roger Farah told analysts.
Ralph Lauren runs its e-commerce operation through a separate company: Ralph Lauren Media LLC. In March Ralph Lauren spent $43.7 million to acquire all of remaining shares of Ralph Lauren Media from ValueVision Media Inc. Now with full ownership, Ralph Lauren is looking to streamline costs to make Ralph Lauren Media more profitable, Farah told analysts. “Not only will it be 100% owned by us, but the dramatic change in the cost of servicing a customer will add very specifically to the profit margins of that business,” he says. Ralph Lauren Media will also open its own fulfillment center by the end of the year, though the location hasn’t been announced, the company says.
Ralph Lauren Media, which posted web sales of $114 million in 2006, uses GSI Commerce Inc. to operate its e-commerce platform. Customer service and fulfillment will be handled by ValueVision, which also owns and operates ShopNBC.com., until March of next year.