Old Navy has a new captain.
Sonia Syngal has been selected as the retailer’s global president, succeeding Stefan Larsson, who last year became chief executive officer of Ralph Lauren Corp. after 14 years at the chain.
The parent Gap Inc. said Syngal will lead the brand’s “continued reinvention of the value space with quality, accessible fashion for everyone.” She faces a challenge: since Larsson’s exit, Old Navy, once the parent’s high-flying star, has seen weak sales and traffic patterns. Syngal will need to implement further efforts to reduce the product cycle time and react to trends faster, while simultaneously improving the quality and maintaining the value proposition inherent in the assortment.
Syngal was executive vice president of global supply chain and product operations for Gap Inc., responsible for managing global sourcing, logistics and product operations across all of Gap Inc.’s brands and channels. She has been working closely with Old Navy to develop the new product-to-market model designed to increase speed and flexibility. She will continue to report to Gap Inc. chief executive officer Art Peck.
Old Navy had a disappointing 2015, when sales ran flat. In February, Peck said the division “hit a bump in the road in Q4,” with a couple of style misses, excess clearance inventory and an unexpected drop in traffic. “We are always going to have some style misses, obviously,” Peck said. “One of the bigger style misses, tops went to a silhouette that was a little shorter and boxier. It was a style that didn’t register with a lot of customers.” Peck also said the company got a little bit overassorted on sweater styles.
So far this year, business hasn’t improved. For the five weeks ended April 2, Old Navy’s comparable sales fell 6 percent. In February, sales were flat. However, the business continues to be a cash cow for the corporation and has not suffered the extended downturns seen at the Gap and Banana Republic divisions.
Syngal has been with Gap Inc. for 12 years and was described by the corporation as “a key driver in evolving the company’s product-to-market model.” Her expertise is in managing retail operations and “bringing brand experiences to life for customers,” Gap said.
The appointment Wednesday marks Syngal’s return to Old Navy, where she served as senior vice president of the international division in 2013, until being tapped to lead Gap Inc.’s enterprise-wide global supply chain. Earlier, Syngal led Gap and Banana Republic’s European businesses for nearly two years, and spent almost three years leading the international divisions for Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Stores. She also held vice president-level roles within the company’s global sourcing organization for four years.
Before join Gap Inc., Syngal spent 10 years at Sun Microsystems and six years at Ford Motor Co.
“Sonia is an inspiring leader with a proven track record leading transformation and driving product-to-market innovations,” said Peck. “Following a comprehensive search, I’m confident Sonia is the right leader to enable Old Navy to realize its substantial, long-term growth potential.”
Syngal said, “How we continue to transform our product engine, focused on balancing amazing product with operational excellence, will be key to unlocking Old Navy’s next phase of growth.”
In other news at Old Navy, Jill Stanton, who was leading the division on an interim basis, will serve as a strategic adviser during a transition as Syngal takes the helm.
Filling Syngal’s former responsibilities at Gap Inc.’s global supply chain and logistics functions will be Michael Yee, who becomes executive vice president, global supply chain, sourcing and production, and Shawn Curran, who becomes executive vice president, global supply chain logistics and product operations. Yee and Curran will report to Peck and join the senior leadership team.