Gap and Old Navy are splitting up

Gap and Old Navy have been trending in opposite directions for years. So they're finally splitting up.Gap said Thursday that it would break into two c...

Posted: Feb 28, 2019 4:04 PM
Updated: Feb 28, 2019 6:15 PM

Gap and Old Navy have been trending in opposite directions for years. So they're finally splitting up.

Gap said Thursday that it would break into two companies. One of the companies will contain Old Navy, while the other yet-to-be-named business, currently called NewCo, will comprise Gap, Banana Republic and other brands, including Athleta and Hill City.

The move is designed to allow Old Navy — which has grown to $8 billion in annual sales since it opened its first store in 1994 — to expand on its own. Meanwhile, the company can consolidate its older brands like Gap and Banana with its newer ones like Athleta and Hill City. NewCo will have about $9 billion in annual sales.

'We think the best way for each company to grow and meet the evolving needs of our customers is to allow them to pursue tailored strategies separately,' Gap CEO Art Peck told analysts Thursday. Peck will lead NewCo. Sonia Syngal, CEO of Old Navy, will keep running that company.

Wall Street cheered the decision: Gap stock was up 25% in after-hours trading.

The separation is a tale of two vastly different businesses: Old Navy has thrived in recent years, and sales at stores open at least a year grew 3% in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Gap has struggled — its sales fell 5% last year. Banana Republic has been closing stores, which has helped the company improve sales.

'Old Navy continues to outpace Gap brand and Banana Republic, and is one the fastest-growing major apparel brands,' said Christina Boni, analyst at Moody's.

The Gap, which was founded in 1969, used to be the coolest brand in retail: It rode the mall boom in the back half of the 20th century, and its logoed sweatshirts and turtlenecks won over everyone from teens to moms and celebrities like Sharon Stone.

But the brand fell out of touch with the Baby Boomers who grew up on the brand, and it failed to attract the Millennials who drive fashion trends today. Retailers such as Levi's, Target and fast-fashion sellers H&M and Zara lured away Gap's denim shoppers with cheaper prices and trendier styles.

The company has been talking for a while about how to make the Gap a healthy part of the business again. In November, Peck described Gap's store count as unprofitable. As of the end of last quarter, there were 1,242 Gap stores worldwide. 758 of them were in North America.

On Thursday, the company said it will close 230 Gap stores over the next two years as part of its plan to 'revitalize' the Gap brand. The closures will affect 'specialty' Gap stores, which includes mall-based stores.

Most of those stores will be in North America, Peck told analysts Thursday. Chief financial officer Teri Stoll added that the company focused on stores that were not delivering, were in the 'wrong locations' or were not a 'strategic fit.'

About 130 of those closures will happen this year, according to Gap. The company also plans to open Old Navy and Athleta locations. Athleta, which will be part of the new Gap company, is a women's athleisure chain that has been a success. Hill City launched last year as Gap's men's athleisure brand.

Gap thinks it will save between $250 million and $300 million before taxes over the next two years because of its closure plans, according to a securities filing. It expects to finish splitting the companies in 2020.

But some analysts questioned why promising brands such as Athleta and Hill City were included in NewCo with the struggling Gap brand.

'This could have been an opportunity for a fresh start for Gap,' said Bob Phibbs, CEO of consultancy Retail Doctor. 'It's simply putting the NewCo brands though the ringer for another cycle of rinse and repeat.'

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
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