Gap Inc., a company that has struggled to attract and retain talent, has figured out where it’s going to get its future executives — from its own ranks.
“We’ve got to develop talent from within,” said Gap Inc. chairman Bob Fisher, at the retailer’s annual shareholder meeting Tuesday. “Talent is just not adequate out there in the retail environment.”
Fisher said that appointing Art Peck, a Gap Inc. insider with experience across divisions, chief executive officer last year “foretells the way this company wants to operate well into the future.”
Peck officially took over the ceo title from Glenn Murphy in February. “That was the first time in over 20 years we’ve had an orderly and seamless transition,” Fisher told shareholders.
He credited Peck with crafting Gap’s global blueprint, establishing the franchise business, leading the outlet division, driving positive results for Gap and Banana Republic, overseeing Gap’s “product-focused business resurgence, guiding the team that delivered an “industry-leading omnichannel platform and quickly bringing together a strong leadership team.”
That team was almost completely built by tapping leaders and managers from within the company, noted Fisher. “We didn’t have to go outside the company as so often we had to do.”
Peck told shareholders that he saw three major opportunities for the company — to deliver product consistency, continuing to be nimble enough to capitalize on the vicissitudes of retail and changing consumer shopping patterns, and fostering a culture that allows “the best of the best to rise to the top.”
While Gap has had “moments of great inspiration, our Achilles heel has been inconsistency in carrying product strength season after season across all of our brands,” Peck said.
The corporation has been benefiting by “the wind in Old Navy’s sails,” the division, he added, has displayed consistency for many quarters running, gaining in market share and “quite honestly in a very attractive and profitable way. They are fundamentally focused on product and reinvented some of the process of how they bring product to market and the consistency they have delivered is a thing of beauty. It’s what we need everywhere in our business….It’s a combination of great team and great product that yields consistency. We need to be product-obsessed, to have great experiences in our stores and deliver those everyday.”
All three company brands sputtered as the firm revealed comparable-store sales numbers last week. The San Francisco-based retailer said its April comps were down 12 percent during the month, with both Gap and Banana Republic shedding 15 percent and Old Navy pulling back 6 percent. All four figures fell below estimates.
There was only one question from shareholders, which came from a member of PETA, requesting that Intermix stop selling fur. “Gap and Intermix lag behind hundreds of designers, retailers and competitors who refuse to sell fur….Intermix can be at once compassionate and luxurious, and can enhance its on-trend image without condoning cruelty. Selling fur is an endorsement of horrific cruelty.”
Gap’s Bobbi Silten, executive vice president of talent and global responsibility, responded by saying, “We do have an animal welfare policy that prohibits use of fur for all of our products that we produce for our brands and expects all of our suppliers to make our branded and private label products in an ethical and responsible way. Intermix offers over 200 brands and the products made under the private label abides by our non-fur policy.”
Gap’s first-quarter results will be issued on Thursday.