Old Navy Names New President Amid CMO Departure

Gap Inc. Veteran Sonia Syngal Will Take over Old Navy; Ivan Wicksteed Has Left the Brand

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Roughly seven months after losing its president to Ralph Lauren, Old Navy has a new leader in placeā€”but has also lost its chief marketing officer. The Gap Inc.-owned brand promoted Sonia Syngal, formerly executive VP of global supply chain and product operations at Gap Inc., to Global President at Old Navy, effective immediately. A company spokeswoman said Wednesday that the brand's CMO, Ivan Wicksteed, who had been with Old Navy for three years, left the company in March.

Sonia Syngal
Sonia Syngal Credit: Gap Inc.

"Sonia is an inspiring leader with a proven track record leading transformation and driving product-to-market innovations," said Art Peck, CEO of Gap Inc., in a statement, noting that her appointment was the result of a comprehensive search.

A company veteran of a dozen years, Ms. Syngal worked her way up the ladder at the San Francisco-based retailer through positions at Old Navy and the outlet business. Most recently, she managed Gap's global sourcing operations and logistics for all of its five brands. Stefan Larsson had been Old Navy's president until this past fall when he moved to the CEO role at Ralph Lauren. He was credited with turning the lower-priced brand into a sole bright spot for the beleaguered retail company.

"Old Navy is truly changing the value space with great design and quality apparel that the whole family loves, and I can't wait to focus my energy on continuing to deliver that promise for our customers," said Ms. Syngal in a statement. She will work with the brand's current marketing team on future campaigns, including back-to-school, a crucial season for the company, as Old Navy conducts a search for Mr. Wicksteed's replacement.

As CMO, Mr. Wicksteed was known for bringing a mix of humor and fun to Old Navy's marketing, evidenced by collaborations with celebrities such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Poehler and, most recently, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein of "Portlandia" fame. His last campaign will run this spring.

In January, Gap appointed Abercrombie executive Craig Brommers as CMO at its namesake label, filling a yearlong vacant position.

Like many apparel brands dealing with consumers whose tastes change as frequently as the unpredictable weather, Gap Inc. has had its share of struggles. For the five weeks ended April 2, the chain reported revenue of $1.43 billion, a 7% decline over the year-earlier period. March same-store sales were down 6% at Old Navy, in addition to declines of 3% and 14% at Gap and Banana Republic, respectively.

Mr. Peck has said that Gap is purposely relying on social media and word-of-mouth as traffic drivers rather than spending a lot on marketing, though Old Navy has seen more marketing dollars than its sibling brands in recent quarters.

Old Navy is not alone in its CMO search. Earlier this week, Macy's announced that its long-time CMO Martine Reardon was leaving the company after 32 years. Kohl's also said its Executive VP of Marketing Will Setliff had departed. Both retailers are looking for replacement executives.

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