Polo Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL) is a premier global player in the design, distribution and marketing of lifestyle products such as men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, accessories, fragrances and home furnishings. RL reported just over $4.9 billion in revenues in 2010 (fiscal year ended April 3, 2010), down 1% from 2009.. The largest part of its revenues come from its wholesale division, which sells Ralph Lauren products to department stores such as Macy's Inc. (M) and J.C. Penney (JCP). RL's product lines range from relatively inexpensive brands (such as Chaps) to expensive, exclusive pieces (Ralph Lauren Collection).
Consolidation amongst department stores has resulted in an increase in the purchasing power of department stores at the expense of brands such as Ralph Lauren. Fewer department stores means each store has more power over suppliers. Also, the fact that Polo Ralph Lauren sells its goods internationally exposes RL to exchange rate risk. Fluctuating exchange rates have had a substantial impact on sales: a gain of $1.6 million in fiscal 2009 and a net loss of $2.2 million in fiscal 2010. In addition, new wealth in Asia has led RL to increase control over its own brand in that region.(Read more at Wikinvest )