Gary Friedman returns as chairman, co-CEO of Restoration Hardware

Less than a year after stepping down as chairman and co-chief executive of Restoration Hardware Holding Inc., Gary Friedman is back in his old roles at the swanky Northern California-based home furnishings retailer.

The Corte Madera company’s former poster boy was reappointed after stepping down in October, reportedly after the board determined that he had had an inappropriate relationship with a 26-year-old female employee.

Restoration did not respond to requests for comment.

After relinquishing his posts, Friedman launched a venture called Hierarchy. Restoration, which had held a minority stake in the brand, said Wednesday it acquired the full rights to Hierarchy and planned to rename it RH Atelier.


The New York-based brand will feature “artisan-crafted” luxury clothing, accessories, shoes and jewelry, all featured in a separate catalog, Friedman said in a statement.

Restoration, which is now calling itself RH, operated 70 retail stores as of May 4. The company is launching a flurry of new catalogs, including recent additions RH Tableware, RH Objects of Curiosity, RH Leather and RH Rugs, which will arrive in the fall.

Also in the works: new businesses such as RH Kitchen and Tableware -- focusing on appliances, lighting, cookware, tools and food -- and RH Antiquities, an effort to break into the $25-billion antiques market.

The push “demonstrates our belief that we can curate a lifestyle well beyond the four walls of the home,” Friedman said in a statement.

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His return to Restoration is effective immediately, though he never really left.

After Friedman’s resignation, Restoration bestowed on him the title of chairman emeritus, creator and curator. His quotes continued to adorn the company’s earnings statements.

Friedman had served as chief executive since March 2011 and spent the 13 years prior at Williams-Sonoma Inc. But when Restoration went public in November, it was his former and now current co-CEO, Carlos Alberini, alone at the helm.


The company has never publicly commented on the reasons why Friedman stepped down. But in August, the New York Times reported that the company had determined through an internal probe that he was seeing a young female employee.

Restoration was reportedly tipped off on the behavior by the employee’s ex-boyfriend.

In Restoration’s first quarter, which ended May 4, the company reported a 38% revenue surge to $301.3 million.

In midday trading in New York, the company’s stock was up less than a percentage point, or 21 cents, to $75.64 a share.



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