Gap Up 10% as New CEO Richard Dickson Brings Hope for Turnaround

Gap has a new CEO, Richard Dickson, beginning Tuesday (Aug. 22), in a move that reportedly signals renewed optimism for the company.

 Dickson’s appointment has sparked investor confidence, with shares of the specialty apparel company gaining 10% since the move was announced on July 26, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Tuesday. Gap has seen a decline in shares over the past 21 years and has gone through four CEOs in an attempt to reverse its fortunes.

Dickson, known for successfully reviving Mattel‘s Barbie brand, brings a creative background to Gap, which is the parent company of brands such as GapOld NavyAthleta and Banana Republic, according to the report.

His background is seen as a crucial factor in rejuvenating the company, the report said. With experience in simplifying product lineups and making strategic design decisions, Dickson’s expertise positions him well to tackle the challenges faced by Gap.

Gap’s decision to appoint Dickson is a departure from its historical preference for leaders without apparel merchandising backgrounds, per the report. Dickson’s background includes leading design and development at The Jones Group, whose brands included Nine West and Anne Klein. He has effectively used data to understand consumer trends.

At Mattel, Dickson “restored the company to growth” and was a leader in reinvigorating not only the Barbie brand, but also Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price, Gap said when announcing the appointment in July. He has also been a member of Gap’s board of directors since November 2022.

In addition to Dickson’s appointment, Gap has made other strategic hires, including Chris Blakeslee, the former president of Alo Yoga, as the CEO of Athleta, according to the WSJ report.

Under interim CEO Bobby Martin, who Dickson succeeds, Gap streamlined operations by reducing inventory, cutting corporate jobs, and closing less-productive stores, not only resulting in cost savings but also promising more agile decision-making, the report said.

While the apparel industry may face challenges in the coming months, Gap’s diverse portfolio of brands positions it well to adapt to changing economic trends, per the report. With four brands catering to different consumer segments, Gap has the potential to weather the storm.