He didn’t exactly say that, but in his most upbeat conference call since joining Gap Inc. in 2007, chairman and chief executive officer Glenn Murphy said Gap’s second quarter was marked by “a lot of bright spots” and fueled by having the right styles, capitalizing on color, focusing on fit, and making “targeted investments in key categories where we wanted to dominate” including babyGap, denim, and suits and woven shirts at Banana Republic.
Gap’s net income for the second quarter rose 29 percent to $243 million, from $189 million in the year ago quarter. Diluted earnings per share increased 40 percent to 49 cents compared with 35 cents last year.
Net sales for the second quarter, which ended July 28, increased 6 percent to $3.58 billion compared with $3.39 billion for the year-ago quarter. Comparable-store sales increased 4 percent.
“Customers responded well to our product offerings across our brands, driving a healthy increase in sales and earnings per share during the quarter,” said Murphy, who for years has drawn skepticism from Wall Street and retail analysts about his ability to revive Gap, considering his background running drug stores in Canada and not as a fashion merchant.
“Our continued focus on product and store execution is helping to drive positive momentum and we’re committed to sustaining solid performance for the remainder of the year,” he said.
Given the second-quarter performance, the company raised its estimate for fiscal year 2012 diluted EPS to be in the range of $1.95 to $2.00, compared with $1.56 in fiscal year 2011.
While the signs point to a turnaround, Murphy was cautious, stating, “Sustained performance is what matters. Everybody is working hard to make sure we maintain the momentum in the back half.”
In North America, Gap and Banana Republic each had a 7 percent comp-store sales gain, while Old Navy was up 3 percent, making for a 4 percent comp overall. Direct sales rose 24 percent.
The only real concerns Murphy expressed were that traffic overall was negative, with the outlets and Old Navy experiencing better traffic than the Gap and Banana Republic, and that comparable-store sales abroad, with the difficult European economy, were negative 5 percent. But Murphy said he likes how Gap Inc. stores are concentrated in London, Paris, Milan and Rome, and positioned properly for when the continent rebounds.
Gap was able to overcome the traffic trends through higher average unit retail prices and better conversion rates driving the quarter. He added that a faster pipeline, getting some early reads on products through social media and forms of crowd sourcing, also helped the business.
In other highlights, Athleta opened 11 stores and will have 25 stores by yearend. Old Navy opened a store in Tokyo, its first unit outside North America, and also had an impressive response, setting the stage for a Japan rollout.
Murphy suggested Old Navy may be in for some major changes when its new president Stefan Larsson, formerly with H&M, starts in October. “He is coming in with a very strong perspective and position when it comes to product,” conceptually as well as from a design and merchandising standpoint, Murphy said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast