NEW YORK – Gap’s board announced that CEO Art Peck is stepping down as the company continues to struggle to turn around a long-standing sales slump.
The San Francisco-based retailer also said late Thursday that it cut its earnings outlook for the year as sales at the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy fell in the most recent quarter.
Peck, who joined the company in 2005 and became CEO in 2015, will depart from the company after a brief transition. He will also step down from the board.
Effective immediately, Robert J. Fisher, the company’s current non-executive chairman of the board, will serve as president and CEO on an interim basis. Fisher is the son of Gap Inc.’s co-founders Donald and Doris F. Fisher.
“As the board evaluates potential successors, our focus will be on strong leadership candidates with operational excellence to drive greater efficiency, speed and profitability,” Fisher said in a statement.
In addition, the company’s board has appointed Bobby Martin, chair of its compensation and management development committee, as lead independent director.
The news comes as the company is in the midst of splitting into two publicly-traded companies, one for its Old Navy brand and another for the Gap, Banana Republic and its lesser known brands.
Like many mall-based clothing chains, Gap is struggling to turn itself around as shoppers go online or to discounters like T.J. Maxx for their clothing. But Gap, which defined casual dressing in the 1990s, has also long struggled with its own deep-rooted problems – its offerings have failed to stand out from that of its rivals.
Peck had been promising investors that a turnaround is in the making. But instead, the chain has had to keep discounting its merchandise to get customers into its stores. Now, it’s turning to new ways to grab customers. In August, its Banana Republic division, following other clothing competitors, began launching an online subscription service.
The company said that global sales at stores open for at least a year fell 4%. By brand, Gap’s same-store sales fell 7%, while the figure was down 3% at Banana Republic. At Old Navy, which had been the company’s juggernaut, same-store sales fell 4%.
Gap expects adjusted earnings per share for the fiscal third quarter to be approximately 34 cents to 36 cents. Analysts expect 55 cents per share, according to FactSet. For the current fiscal year, Gap expects adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $1.70 to $1.75 compared to previous guidance of $2.05 to $2.15. Analysts expect $2.06 per share for the year, according to FactSet.
“This was a challenging quarter, as macro impacts and slower traffic further pressured results that have been hampered by product and operating challenges across key brands,” said Teri List-Stoll, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Gap Inc. in a statement.
Gap is slated to release its final fiscal third quarter results on Nov. 21.
Shares of Gap Inc. slid nearly 6% ($1.06) to $17 in after-hours trading Thursday. In regular markets, shares rose nearly 2% (33 cents) to $18.06.
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