- Gap Inc. has appointed its Old Navy leader, Sonia Syngal, as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) as the clothing company looks to reverse declining foot traffic.
- Syngal, 49, will take over as early as March 23, the firm said in a statement. In 2016 she became CEO of Old Navy and her previous roles included executive vice president at Gap for the global supply chain and retail production.
Gap Inc. has appointed its Old Navy leader, Sonia Syngal, as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) as the clothing company looks to reverse declining foot traffic and revenue while pivoting towards a new strategy.
Syngal, 49, will take over as early as March 23, the firm said in a statement. In 2016 she became CEO of Old Navy and her previous roles included executive vice president at Gap for the global supply chain and retail production. She joins a growing group of women CEOs who manage Fortune 500 companies.
Robert Fisher, the son of Gap’s founders who served as interim CEO while the company was searching for a permanent replacement, said that Syngal would “deliver value from our brand portfolio over the long term.” The company also appointed Bobby Martin, a member of the Gap board and former CEO of the international business of Walmart Inc., to take over as executive chairman.
Gap shares fell as much as 1.6 percent in Thursday’s late trading following the announcement initially benefit. So far in 2020, the stock has lost roughly a quarter of its value, continuing the large decline that started in 2018.
Syngal oversaw sustained growth in the Old Navy chain— but like the flagship brand of Gap, in recent quarters this expansion has evaporated. She inherits a company that has recorded weakness across its three main divisions amid a wide-ranging shift in the way customers shop for clothes. If Gap has any hope of regaining its past prominence, overcoming those shifts will be necessary.
The pressure to produce a turnaround plan that resonates with investors will be strong for her. The trust of Wall Street may be thin following the departure of Art Peck from the CEO position in November. One of his last actions was trying to spin off Gap’s Old Navy discount store from its other brands— an effort that was eventually scrapped. Under his tenure, he also struggled to reignite sales growth, with the firm posting multiple quarters of negative same-store sales, a closely watched metric for retailers.
The attempt to spin off Old Navy exposed Gap’s organizational shortcomings and led to the dramatic strategic transition.
“The work we’ve done to prepare for the turnaround shed a bright light on organizational inefficiencies and areas for improvement,” Fisher said in a January statement. Gap, established in San Francisco in 1969, operates its brand name, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and fitness brand, Athleta.
With her appointment as CEO of GAP, Sonia Sygnal joins the growing group of Indian origin executives of global brands which include likes of Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella. This news comes just before Women’s Day and serves as a positive sign for women of the country. It will be interesting to see how does she work to reverse the declining foot traffic.