After nearly 15 years at Gap Inc. and five years as its CEO, Art Peck is stepping down — both from the role and from the company's board. The company announced the news Thursday afternoon, noting that Robert J. Fisher, the company's current non-executive chairman of the Board and a member of Gap's founding family, will replace Peck as president and chief executive officer in the interim. The news sent Gap Inc. shares down more than 9%.
"As the Board evaluates potential successors, our focus will be on strong leadership candidates with operational excellence to drive greater efficiency, speed and profitability," said Fisher in a statement. "In the meantime, we will continue to focus on leveraging the power of our brands and the talented teams that lead them to improve execution and better position the portfolio for growth."
The announcement comes amid a long period of sliding sales at Gap brand, Banana Republic and, lately, Old Navy as well. In the most recent quarter, comparable sales declined 7% at Gap, 3% at Banana Republic and 4% at Old Navy. It also follows an announcement this past February that Old Navy is being spun off into its own separate company.
Peck has spent much of his tenure as CEO working to turn the Gap brand around; the brand has experimented with a number of different creative leaders and marketing campaigns over the years (lately it's been focusing on getting back to its roots), to little avail. Like so many mall brands, Gap has closed hundreds of stores as it's struggled to compete with more relevant fast fashion and digitally savvy millennial-targeting companies.
Could a change in executive leadership be what the brand and company need to thrive once again? It's worth a shot.