Gap Inc. on Tuesday announced the appointment of Mary Beth Laughton as president and CEO of its Athleta brand, according to a company press release.
Laughton will start her new position in late October and will report to Gap Inc. President and CEO Art Peck, per the release. She replaces Nancy Green, who this summer moved into the newly created position of president and chief creative officer at Old Navy.
Laughton was most recently executive vice president of omni retail for Sephora U.S., has previously served in leadership roles at Nike and is currently on the board of REI.
Mary Beth Laughton brings over 20 years of experience with digital operations and e-commerce to her new C-suite position at Athleta, possibly indicating a larger emphasis on the athletic apparel brand's digital efforts. At her most recent position at Sephora, Laughton boosted the beauty retailer's online business efforts five-fold. Prior to that, she worked in several positions at Nike, including director of e-commerce within Nike subsidiaries including Cole Haan, Converse and Hurley.
Her appointment is one of a string of announcements made by Gap Inc. this year, most importantly marked by the corporation's intentions to split off its Old Navy brand and create two independent companies, with Old Navy in one camp and Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix and Hill City in the other.
Athleta's role in the new structure is critical, as the brand has consistently delivered sales growth while others within the portfolio have struggled. Athleta, which Peck calls Gap Inc.'s "little rocket," recently disclosed for the first time that revenues reached nearly $900 million last fiscal year.
The female-focused brand has performed well in an athletics space that has recently been heavily driven by the athleisure movement. According to data from Earnest Research, the brand held 7% of total sales in the space between Q3 2017 and Q2 2019. Earlier this month, Gap Inc. also revealed its intension to expand both its Athleta and Janie and Jack brands via international franchising.