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Blame it on womenswear: Gaps CEO explains Banana Republic's slump

Business |ANALYSIS

Blame it on womenswear: Gaps CEO explains Banana Republic's slump

By Angela Gonzalez-Rodriguez

9 Oct 2015

Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck blamed poor-fitting women’s clothing for a lingering slump at the group´s high-end brand Banana Republic. The chain has just posted another month of weaker than expected sales.

“I’ve been disappointed in the women’s product in Banana Republic,” Peck said in an interview after Banana Republic´s same-store sales stumbled 10 percent in September. Customers are “being clear that it doesn’t fit well. It’s not as versatile or flattering as it should be given the price point,” Peck further explained.

In this vein, the ‘Washington Post’ recalls that other company´s executives have acknowledged a host of major problems at the retailer known for its office-friendly attire: the fit of pants and other pieces was not quite right, the mix of trendy and classic items was confusing, and the fabrics often felt too cheap to justify their price tag.

On a related note, Banana Republic’s creative director, Marissa Webb, will step down from her day-to-day role at the chain to focus more on her personal label. It is worth recalling that the Banana Republic poached Webb from J. Crew to help restore Banana Republic’s fashion credibility. Gap said however Webb will continue to be associated with the brand in a “creative adviser role.”

Peck has been reshuffling the retailer’s leadership since taking the helm in February, including naming new brand presidents at the Gap and Banana Republic chains. His comeback effort was dealt a blow last week, when Old Navy Global Brand President Stefan Larsson was lured away to become CEO of Ralph Lauren Corp. Jill Stanton will take over as interim head of Old Navy, which has been Gap’s best-performing brand recently.

Peck said he expects to see improvement in Banana Republic’s product in the spring, the same time frame as the turnaround planned for the Gap chain.

Meanwhile, same-store sales at the Gap brand were unchanged in September from a year earlier, ahead the 6.2 percent average decline predicted by analysts. Sales at Old Navy, on the upside, grew 4 percent although they missed the estimates for a 5.6 percent gain.