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Old Navy’s Ming Tapped by Private Equity Firm

Jenny J. Ming, who made Gap Inc.'s Old Navy division a national retail force as president, has joined private equity firm Advent International...

Jenny J. Ming, who made Gap Inc.’s Old Navy division a national retail force in more than seven years as president, has joined private equity firm Advent International as an operating partner to explore investment opportunities in apparel retailing.

This story first appeared in the September 9, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Ming said she will remain based in San Francisco, working with the firm’s deal team in Boston and supporting investment activities globally.

“There are a lot of great opportunities; that’s the reason I joined,” Ming said. “Retailing has been hard hit. Values are lower, and on top of that, I’ve done a lot of traveling [since leaving Old Navy] and I’m coming back with a fresher perspective. There is always room for something new and innovative….This partnership will allow me to leverage my experience and take full advantage of Advent’s global presence as we actively pursue new retail investment opportunities together.”

Asked if she would run a retail company bought by Advent, Ming replied: “It’s possible, if it’s fun and attractive enough, but I’m not ready to say that for sure.”

She said Advent has given her “a lot of flexibility in deciding what I want to do, but I’m certainly excited about getting involved.”

Ming began her career with Gap Inc. in 1986 as merchandise manager of Gap brand activewear before shifting to Old Navy as executive vice president of merchandising, responsible for store design, visual merchandising, planning and distribution.

During her tenure as president of Old Navy, volume catapulted to more than $6 billion and the division grew to more than 900 stores. Ming’s record of achievement landed her on Fortune magazine’s 2003 and 2004 lists of the “50 Most Powerful Women in American Business.” In 1999, Business Week named her one of the Top 25 Managers of the Year.

However, during the last two years of her tenure, Old Navy’s same-store sales started sinking and the division lost market share. She left the business in July 2006.

 

“Jenny Ming is a dynamic professional with over two decades of experience in developing one of the nation’s leading retail brands,” said Advent managing partner David Mussafer. “Her extensive retail knowledge and ability to develop a talented team will be a tremendous asset as we collaborate to grow the Advent retail portfolio.”

Among Advent’s investments are Lululemon, the growing athletic and yoga apparel specialty retailer; Gérard Darel, a French designer and retailer of mid- to high-end women’s ready-to-wear; Fat Face, a U.K. active lifestyle clothing retailer; Dollar Express, a U.S. single-price retailer acquired by Dollar Tree Stores, and Hudson Group, a travel retailer.

Advent, which was formed 24 years ago, said it has raised $24 billion in private equity capital and has completed more than 250 transactions valued at more than $40 billion in 40 countries.