Gap’s Consumer-Led Chief Exec Goes
Gap CEO and champion of consumer insights Paul Pressler is leaving the role by mutual agreement with the clothing retailer’s board, after sliding sales and falling profits in the last year culminated in a miserable holiday season and an 8% drop in sales during December.
The former Walt Disney theme park Chairman joined Gap back in 2002, with a plan to ‘put research at the heart of the company’. Pressler’s ‘consumer insights’ strategy involving running focus groups and surveys, leading Gap-brand store redesign, and hiring economists and statisticians to study everything from consumer trends to store traffic patterns. However, last year some industry observers speculated on whether he had introduced a culture of ‘too many surveys and too little passion’.
If Pressler does not accept another job or compensation for the next two years he will receive a severance package of $14 million.
The San Francisco-based company, which owns 3,100 stores under the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic brands, has named Robert J. Fisher, the son of founder Donald Fisher, as CEO on an interim basis. Fisher has previously held several top jobs at Gap and has been the company's Non-Executive Chairman since May 2004.
The company said in a statement that it is looking for a new CEO with ‘deep retailing and merchandising experience, ideally in apparel; someone who can both understand the creative process and maintain financial discipline.’
Gap shares fell 10 cents to close at $19.90 on the New York Stock Exchange, then gained 53 cents in extended trading after Pressler's departure was announced. Web site: www.gap.com .