By  on April 28, 2006

NEW YORK — Seeking to bolster its top executive ranks, Gap Inc. has tapped Liz Claiborne veteran Denise Johnston to be president of Gap Adult, overseeing all aspects of Gap women’s and men’s apparel and accessories.

Her duties will include merchandising, production, product design and development, planning and distribution.

Johnston is taking over responsibilities previously held by Julie Rosen, who left the company about four months ago, although Gap officials said she will play an even bigger role in the newly created job.

She will report to Gap Brand president Cynthia Harriss and start on June 5.

“Denise is an exceptional leader and gifted merchant with a remarkable eye for product, and we are very fortunate to have her join our team leading this important segment of our business,” Harriss said in a statement. “With Denise heading up the Gap Adult business, she joins a terrific team of brand leaders.”

Johnston was a key player at Claiborne, most recently serving as president and chief merchandising officer for the better and moderates division, responsible for design and merchandising. The division includes Emma James, JH Collectibles, Intuitions, Tapemeasure, Liz Claiborne Apparel and City Unltd. brands. Previously, she was president of Liz Claiborne Apparel, supervising design, planning, merchandising, sales and marketing. She has more than 25 years experience in the apparel business, once having served as president of the Cricket Lane and Melrose divisions of Koret of California.

Gap has been struggling with poor results over the last several seasons, resulting in executive departures and a resolve to improve product and step up recruitings. Over the past six months, the company has filled some key slots, including naming Tom Wyatt to be president of GapBody; Pamela Wallack, executive vice president of GapKids, babyGap and Gap Maternity, and Charlotte Neuville, executive vice president of design and product development for Gap Adult.

Just this week, Kimberley Grayson joined Gap’s emerging Forth & Towne division as senior vice president of marketing, a new position. She is responsible for all aspects of marketing, including advertising, public relations, direct mail and the in-store experience. She reports to Gary Muto, president of Forth & Towne.Gap launched the first five Forth & Towne shops last fall, in Chicago and New York, and has 10 more scheduled to open this fall in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle and Atlanta. “We are bringing people on as we scale up the business,” Muto said.

Grayson previously worked at AeroGroup International, the parent company of Aerosoles footwear and various sub-brands, as senior vice president of marketing. She spent 13 years with AeroGroup.

“Kimberley has an excellent understanding of our target customer,” Muto said. “She’s been marketing to that customer for the last 13 years at Aerosoles.” Forth & Towne caters to women, 35 and older. Muto said Forth & Towne continues to refine its business, from elevating the customer experience in the stores to revamping the Web site.

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