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Illustration of Larry Rosen, chief executive officer of retailer Harry Rosen. (ANTHONY JENKINS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Illustration of Larry Rosen, chief executive officer of retailer Harry Rosen. (ANTHONY JENKINS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

the lunch

Harry Rosen chief getting ready for a retail rumble Add to ...

“I think there is a war – clouds of war are on the horizon,” he says. “And trust me, none of these competitors are going to be just throwing in the towel. They’re all going to fight for every dollar, and we have to make sure that we execute.”

CURRICULUM VITAE

Beginnings

Born in Toronto, 1956

Family

Married to Susan Jackson, who practised real estate law on Bay Street for 20 years and now focuses on charity work.

Has three sons: Daniel, 26; Ian, 24; and Graham, 22.

None of his three sons work in the business but “I’m hopeful that one day it may come to pass,” Mr. Rosen says. His two youngest work in large management consulting firms; Ian will be heading to one of the prestigious American universities this fall to do an MBA, he’s already been accepted at two. Daniel, the oldest, is doing a PhD in music at Western where he will start law school later this year.

Education

Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto.

Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario.

Career

As a teenager, worked summers as a salesman at Harry Rosen stores.

Articled at McCarthys and then practised corporate law at small law firm in Toronto.

Joined Harry Rosen as a buyer in 1986, then worked in store operations at senior management level and became buying director.

In 1997, he was named president and chief operating officer and, in 2000, chairman and chief executive officer.

Other activities

Member of the Ivey Advisory Board, the Ivey Entrepreneurship Advisory Council and the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Board.

Spearheads Harry’s Spring Run-Off, which has raised more than $3-million.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

On sponsoring a kids’ Harry Rosen hockey team, even though his three sons no longer play in the league: “I think it’s great when the grandparents and the parents all come out and see their little kids dressed in the splendour of Harry Rosen.”

On why he always orders the same chicken dish at upscale Pangaea Restaurant: “I know the calorie count, I know what we’re getting and I know that I’m full after.”

On fashion: “The fashion business is a wonderful business because it’s eternally young. It’s an industry that is dominated by younger people. It’s always reinventing. And I find it keeps me young.”

On joining the family business: “My father had two concerns: One is, I don’t think he wanted the appearance of nepotism. And he made it clear to me when I joined that I would have to prove myself. And the other thing is, I think he wanted us to not feel pressure to join a family business.”

On long-term future: “I’m a big believer that businesses have to grow if they want to engage their people … I confess that in three to five years we’re going to have to find something new. Whether that will be an international expansion or an expansion of our brand into new markets, such as women – I’m not going to speculate right now until we formalize it in our minds.”

On the retail war: “It’s great for me to say we can win this war. But it requires us going out and proving it 365 days a year. You just have to mess up once with a client and you can lose their loyalty.”

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Follow on Twitter: @MarinaStrauss

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