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Ralph Lauren is closing stores, cutting jobs as sales slump

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NEW YORK (AP) — Ralph Lauren is closing stores, cutting jobs and focusing more on its most popular brands to try to reverse its declining fortunes.

Shares of the fashion company tumbled 4 percent Tuesday.

The changes are the first big moves from CEO Stefan Larsson, who replaced company founder Ralph Lauren in the role late last year. Lauren is still executive chairman and chief creative officer of the fashion and home decor business he created.

The New York company, known for its polo shirts and pony logo, plans to close more than 50 stores, or about 10 percent of its total retail stores. It will let go approximately 1,000 of its 15,000 full-time employees, or almost 7 percent.

It will focus more on its three best-selling brands — Ralph Lauren, Polo and Lauren — and devote fewer resources to its smaller ones, such as Chaps and RLX. The company also hopes to produce its clothing faster, cutting six months from the production process to make it nine months.

Ralph Lauren expects the restructuring to save it between $180 million and $220 million a year. That’s on top of $125 million in cost cuts from last year. It expects to incur restructuring charges of up to $400 million for the year and inventory-related charges of up to $150 million.

For the current quarter, it expects revenue to fall in the mid-single digits and fall in the low double digits for the year.

Shares of Ralph Lauren Corp. fell $4.12, or 4.3 percent, to $92.21 in morning trading Tuesday. Its shares are down about 30 percent in the last year.

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