Gap Inc. has appointed Mary Beth Laughton as President and CEO of Athleta. Laughton will begin the role in late October and will serve on Gap Inc.’s senior leadership team, reporting to President and CEO Art Peck.She replaces Nancy Green, who moved into the newly created position of President and Chief Creative Officer at Old Navy.
After announcing plans to spin off Old Navy into its own public company, Gap Inc. is now relying on the Athleta brand to boost overall company sales — which fell 2% alongside 4% same-store sales declines as the namesake Gap and Banana Republic continue to struggle.Athleta, an athleticwear brand for women, held 7% of total sales in athleisure between Q3 2017 and Q2 2019, coming in just behind lululemon (10%) and Under Armour (8%), according to data from Earnest Research.
Earlier this month, Gap Inc. revealed it will begin franchising the Athleta and Janie and Jack brands internationally, just as it had done for 500 franchisee-operated Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores across 40 countries. The company said it will start by looking for partners to help it open stores within other stores and build out web sites globally. Gap ultimately hopes to find partners to help open freestanding Athleta and Janie and Jack franchise stores overseas. Gap acquired Janie and Jack’s intellectual property, web site, customer data and other assets for $35 million from Gymboree during its bankruptcy proceedings in March 2019.
Laughton, a 20+ year retail veteran, most recently served as EVP of Omni Retail for Sephora U.S., leading both the e-Commerce and stores channels. She has overseen areas including digital marketing and merchandising, store operations and field, CRM/analytics, omnichannel experience and digital innovation. During her tenure, Laughton spearheaded the increase of the retailer’s online business 5X.
Prior to that, Laughton spent nine years at Nike in a variety of roles including General Manager of E-Commerce for Europe and the Director of E-Commerce for Nike subsidiaries including Cole Haan, Converse and Hurley. She has been a board member of REI since 2017.