Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal to Exit

Gap Inc. chief executive and president Sonia Syngal will step down effective immediately, the company announced Monday. She was appointed to the role in 2020 after previously leading Old Navy.

Bob Martin, Gap Inc.’s executive chairman of the board, will serve as interim chief. The company also announced the appointment of Walmart executive Horacio “Haio” Barbeito as president and CEO of Old Navy, replacing former chief Nancy Green. Barbeito spent 26 years at Walmart, where he was most recently CEO of Walmart Canada.

In the same statement announcing Syngal’s departure, Gap Inc. said it’s expecting second-quarter sales to decline in the high-single digit range year-over-year.

Gap Inc. has struggled to maintain relevance in recent years as fast fashion retailers and digital newcomers emerged as major contenders. Even Old Navy, formerly a bright spot for the business, had seen sales decelerate leading up to the pandemic. Plans of spinning off the brand into its own public entity were scrapped in early 2020.

In its most recent quarter, which ended Apr. 30, Gap reported a 13 percent sales drop compared to the same period last year. It cited “industry-wide headwinds,” as well as challenges at Old Navy. Its updated guidance Monday reiterates these difficulties, projecting that it will spend $50 million on air freight and inflationary costs for raw materials.

Since the beginning of the year, the value of Gap Inc. shares have dropped by more than 50 percent. Despite streamlining the company by selling off tangential businesses, including multibrand retailer Intermix and children’s label Janie and Jack, as well as investing in its popular activewear label Athleta, the retailer has failed to get back on track. Some say its best chance at a restructure is to be taken private.

“Amidst significant global disruption, social unrest and economic instability, Sonia had an immediate impact as Gap Inc. CEO, establishing a clear strategic direction and cultural identity that has united this global enterprise as a force for good with powerful brands poised to stand the test of time,” Martin said in a statement.

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