Gap chief executive Sonia Syngal steps down as retailer struggles amid weak demand

Executive chairman Bob Martin will step in as interim chief executive of the clothing company

Sonia Syngal headed Gap's Old Navy before being named as the chief executive in March 2020. AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Gap has said that chief executive Sonia Syngal will step down after just a little more than two years in the role, as the apparel seller wrestles with weak demand for its casual attire and a slump in its stock price.

It also warned that margins would stay under pressure in the second quarter as costs spiral, sending shares of the company down about 4 per cent after hours on Monday.

Executive chairman Bob Martin will step in as interim chief executive, while ex-Walmart Canada top boss Horacio Barbeito has been tapped to lead Old Navy through tough times for the company's biggest brand.

"I think it's a necessary change given Gap's recent problems. The addition of a permanent CEO for Old Navy is positive as Gap needs to stabilise this part of the business," Morningstar analyst David Swartz said.

Earlier this year Gap flagged execution issues at Old Navy and said a shift to formals and partywear from more casual attire had left the brand's selection "out of sync" with the change in tastes.

To clear out inventory and make room for new products, Gap has ramped up promotions in a move that is expected to negatively impact gross margins in the second quarter, the company said on Monday.

It forecast its adjusted operating margin percentage to be zero to slightly negative, compared with a 10.2 per cent rise last year, and expects net sales to decline in the high-single-digit range.

Ms Syngal, 52, is exiting the company just months after it slashed its annual results forecast owing to pressure from weak demand in the face of decades-high inflation.

Gap did not provide a reason for her sudden exit.

Ms Syngal headed Gap's Old Navy before being named as the chief executive in March 2020.

Gap's stock has tumbled more than 75 per cent from highs in May 2021, and in June traded at its lowest level in more than two years.

Updated: July 12, 2022, 7:24 AM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL