Gap, Banana Republic Eliminate Global CMO Roles

Restructuring Merges Marketing, E-Commerce Teams

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Gap, Inc. is eliminating the global CMO positions for the Gap and Banana Republic brands, effective immediately, the company said today. The role will be replaced by a head of customer experience, a new position that broadens the CMO role to include e-commerce and reports to the individual brands' global presidents.

The move is part of a restructuring effort aimed at merging the brands' marketing and e-commerce teams to create a unified approach that centers on the customer.

"Now's the time to intensify our customer focus and break-through with a truly dynamic and integrated approach to building relationships with our customers," said Jeff Kirwan, global brand president of Gap, in a statement.

The change comes as Art Peck gears up to take over as CEO, replacing Glenn Murphy, and it follows executive changes among the brands' leadership teams.

Longtime Gap executive Scott Key has been named senior VP and general manager-customer experience of Gap brand, reporting to Mr. Kirwan. And Aimee Lapic will take on the same role at Banana Republic, reporting to Global Brand President Andi Owen. Ms. Lapic was previously senior VP-marketing and general manager of Gap Outlet International.

Gap CMO Seth Farbman -- known for overhauling the brand's marketing -- will depart his role on Jan. 31, as previously announced, though he will stay on as an advisor for a period of time. Banana Republic CMO Catherine Sadler, who was tasked with unifying the brand for longtime customers and newcomers, stepped down from her role late last year. Ivan Wicksteed will be Gap Inc.'s only remaining global CMO, leading marketing for Old Navy.

The company created global CMO positions as part of a broader effort to expand outside of the U.S. and strengthen its marketing efforts. In 2011, Mr. Farbman was named the brand's first global CMO, while Ms. Sadler and Mr. Wicksteed took on their roles at Banana Republic and Old Navy, respectively, in 2013.

Analysts at Jefferies see the news as a step in the right direction, explaining in a note to investors that they expect it will bring a fresh take to the brands and re-engage consumers.

Gap is also eliminating the Creative Director role currently held by Rebekka Bay, who is stepping down, effective immediately, the company said. Ms. Bay joined the retailer in 2012 in a bid to help make the brand more relevant and its clothing more appealing.

Gap Inc. sales fell 1% during the third quarter of 2014 to $3.97 billion. Same-store sales were up 1% in December, driven by gains at Old Navy, the company reported. Wieden & Kennedy, New York is the lead global agency for Gap brand, while Laird & Partners handles Banana Republic.

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