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Gap Taps Old Navy Boss as Its New CEO

By Daniel B. Kline - Updated Mar 11, 2020 at 8:21AM

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She faces a tough task in turning around the struggling namesake brand.

When Gap Inc. (GPS -1.90%) canceled its plans to spin off its Old Navy brand into a separate company, it also kept that retailer's CEO, Sonia Syngal, from the chance at the top leadership spot at a stand-alone company. Now, she's getting that chance as she has been tapped by Gap's board of directors to take over as the company's new CEO.

A display of Gap sweatshirts.

Gap has been struggling while Old Navy has thrived. Image source: Gap.

Fall into the Gap?

As the new CEO of the company, Syngal must figure out how to revitalize its core brand. That's a major challenge since Gap has struggled and many of its locations are in malls, which are also struggling. She also takes over at a time when clothing retailers in general may face negative headwinds due to coronavirus.

Syngal may not be able to turn the brand around quickly because of factors outside of her control. She did, however, offer a small hint at how she's thinking about doing it, through a statement released by the company.

"I'm committed to fully realizing the potential of our portfolio and the advantage of our scale, with a focus on strengthening the love that our millions of customers have for our brands," she said. "To do that, we must better prioritize initiatives and capabilities that will improve execution and drive value creation."

Is this the right hire?

While Syngal's statement does not get very specific, her record as CEO of Old Navy has earned her this job. Fixing Gap involves changing how consumers perceive the brand and maybe making major shifts in its store portfolio. Those aren't problems that can be solved in the short-term. They are, however, solvable if the new CEO is given the time and resources needed to put the company's namesake brand back on track.

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