When Gap announced that Rebekka Bay would be leaving the company last month, and that her role as creative director would be eliminated entirely, the departure came as something of a surprise.
Bay was nothing short of a success story following the launch of premium high street brand COS, which she bought sleek minimalism to, but now Gap has sort-of replaced her.
In the company’s fourth quarter earnings call yesterday, CEO Art Peck welcomed Wendi Goldman to the fold. Make no mistake, Goldman is not the new creative director. Rather, she is Executive Vice President, Gap Product Design and Development. In a statement, Jeff Kirwan, Global President of Gap brand, describes her as “a commercially-driven, customer-focused leader with deep fashion and apparel experience.” The lengthy title befits the extensive list of responsibilities in her role, which will involve overseeing Gap’s women’s and men’s businesses, as well as GapKids, babyGap, GapFit, GapBody and Maternity.
Goldman is very familiar with the Gap brand, having spent eight years of her career in product and merchandising at Banana Republic prior to serving 11 years at Limited Brands.
Peck, who joined the American retailer as Chief Executive earlier this month, is aware that the once iconic brand is in desperate need of an overhaul, as he outlined in the call.
He reaffirmed that the executive team isn’t best pleased with the brand’s performance, in particular the women’s business. While Gap Inc.’s net sales grew 2% in 2014 to $16.44bn, its namesake brand’s sales sunk from $6.3bn in 2013 to $6.1bn in 2014. That being said, Peck does have a plan. While Gap’s save will be a lengthy process, a “relentless focus on product”, coupled with a vision of bringing back its “casual, American, optimistic” roots will, hopefully, turnaround the brand.