- The leader of Gap Inc.'s fast-growing Athleta brand is moving to a new executive role at Old Navy, which the apparel retailer is preparing to spin off.
- In early August, Nancy Green will move into the newly created president and chief creative officer role at Old Navy, where she will oversee the banner's design, production, merchandising and marketing, Gap said in a press release Tuesday. She is set to report to Old Navy CEO Sonia Syngal.
- Gap Inc. is searching for a new president for the Athleta brand. In the meantime, its leadership team will report to CEO Art Peck.
Green's move to Old Navy marks a homecoming. Before joining Athleta in 2013, she was executive vice president and chief creative officer at Old Navy, doing much of what she will do in her new role (i.e., leading merchandising and design). She also briefly led the brand on an interim basis in 2012.
With Green's return to Old Navy, Athleta will be without the leader that helped drive massive sales growth over the past half-decade.
"Nancy's ability to drive growth is demonstrated by Athleta's success," Peck said in a statement. "Under her leadership, the brand more than doubled sales with operating margin expansion due to a robust omni business fueled by a clear brand vision woven throughout product and experiences."
Founded in 1998, and acquired by Gap in 2008, Athleta has been one of the bright spots at Gap Inc. By February, the banner had 161 stores in North America, and together with Old Navy was driving the company's sales forward, according to Gap's most recent 10-K.
The brand is expected to hit $1 billion in sales next year, Peck said in a statement. In a May earnings call, he described Athleta as one of the fastest growing athletic brands on the continent and poised to capture market share as the company planned 25 new stores during the year, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
Green will go back to Old Navy as Gap Inc. gears up to spin it off into a stand-alone company after years of its help keeping the family of brands afloat amid declines at the Gap namesake and Banana Republic. Some analysts have expressed concern that, without Old Navy's assistance, the ailing banners at Gap could drag down the healthy ones, including Athleta.
"They're not big enough to support Gap on their own," Ray Hartjen marketing director at RetailNext, told Retail Dive earlier this year. "There's no more crutches for Gap to lean on now."
As for Old Navy, the banner has gone through headwinds of its own this year, with comps down 1% in the first quarter, leading analysts to question whether now is the best time to spin it off.