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CORTE MADERA, Calif. (AP) — Gary Friedman is returning as chairman and co-CEO at Restoration Hardware, less than a year after stepping aside, as the home products chain buys his new venture, a company called Hierarchy.

In August 2012 the New York Times had reported that Friedman resigned as co-CEO after Restoration Hardware's board found that Friedman had an inappropriate relationship with a former employee.

Friedman started Hierarchy that month and was given a title of Chairman Emeritus, Creator and Curator at Restoration Hardware.

Friedman had been CEO of the Corte Madera, Calif., company since 2001. He's once again co-CEO alongside Carlos Alberini, who was brought on board in 2010.

The company is tapping Friedman again as it restyles itself as "RH," focusing on high-end furnishings rather than its Americana, nostalgia-based roots.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.