Top executive out after personal misconduct allegations

Howard Smith, vice president and chief commercial officer for Ralph Lauren, is out after the company said he violated their code of business conduct and ethics, Fox Business reported Wednesday. 

Ralph Lauren said Smith’s forced resignation doesn’t have to do with the company’s financial reporting or its marketplace performance.

However, they wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the allegations regarding his personal conduct in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

“Upon recently learning of allegations regarding Mr. Smith’s personal conduct, the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors promptly launched an independent investigation with the assistance of outside counsel,” the Wednesday filing read.

“Because the investigation revealed conduct that violated the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and other policies, the Board concluded that Mr. Smith’s resignation was necessary.”

“We are saddened by this situation and recognize that this news will come as a surprise,” wrote Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet in a memo to staff.

“Howard has contributed significantly to the evolution of our Company for the past 20 years, and we are grateful for that.”

Smith joined the company in 2002 as vice president of logistics and operations for Ralph Lauren’s European business. After that, he was a vice president for supply chain operations in numerous separate divisions, including Europe, Middle East and Africa, U.S. and Canada and China.

He would go on to become president of Ralph Lauren’s Japan, Asia Pacific and international businesses.

While he’s stepping down immediately, the resignation will take effect on April 2. In the meantime, regional leaders will report to Louvet to cover for Smith.

The resignation came mere days after another major ouster in the fashion world.

Estée Lauder senior executive John Demsey was forced out after he posted an Instagram meme on his personal account which included an asterisked-out racial slur on a satirical book cover.

According to Fox Business, Demsey said he didn’t read the meme before posting and was “terribly and deeply ashamed” over the incident.