Gap Inc is America's biggest clothing retailer, offering distinctive casual clothing through three main retail brands of The Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy. In the 1990s, the Gap brand gradually conquered the globe, eclipsing more established manufacturers such as Levi's with its stylish but affordable designs. Between 1996 and 1999 revenues and net income both doubled as the group extended its format into new brands and new territories. Buoyed up with its own success, the store arguably lost sight of its core values, and an attempt to move further upmarket led to sharp falls in performance from 2000 onwards. A return to basics at the Gap brand prompted a brief recovery in 2003 and 2004 before sales went into another sharp decline from 2005. Repeated attempts to regain momentum have met with only short-lived recovery. The group continues to deliver flat performance and it was toppled as the world's biggest clothing company by both Inditex and H&M. Conditions have remained challenging, especially at core chain The Gap, which has been steadily eclipsed by more mass-market Old Navy, now the group's biggest brand by far, accounting for more than half of US sales. Other retail launches - such as Forth & Towne and Piperlime - have come and gone without adding significantly to revenues. The longest-lasting has been women's fitness brand Athleta, now predicted to reach $1bn in sales in 2020. The prolonged weakness has led to a revolving door of divisional managers and marketers over the past decade. Art Peck replaced Glenn Murphy as CEO in 2015; Robert Fisher, son of the group's original founders, is non-executive chairman. In 2019, the company will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Gap brand, launched in 1969 in San Francisco by Don and Doris Fisher. Group revenues for ye 2018 were $15.9bn. Old Navy contributed sales of $7.2bn, Gap $5.3bn and Banana Republic $2.4bn. North America accounted for almost 87% of combined revenues; what was at one time a sizeable international retail footprint has been scaled down significantly since 2016.
Capsule checked 19th October 2018
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Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Sep 2018: Gap Inc is attempting to counter the slow but steady decline of its main Gap chain with expansion into new areas. It announced the launch of a new online-only mens sportswear brand Hill City, intended to partner its existing women's activewear brand Athleta. "Active is a key growth area for Gap Inc," said group CEO Art Peck, "and Hill City is our response to consistent feedback from customers looking for a premium men's product that combines highly technical fabrications, performance and style."
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Aug 2018: Gap Inc continues to struggle with declining sales for its eponymous flagship brand. In the latest quarter, comparable sales at The Gap slipped another 5% year-on-year. Only once in the 18 quarters since 2013 has The Gap reported an increase: of just 1% in the quarter to Sept 2017. Group CEO Art Peck blamed inventory overstocks, which are already being dealt with. "We believe the worst is behind us," he told investors. The group's other two brands Old Navy and Banana Republic did much better - up 5% and 2% respectively - resulting in a 2% overall lift.
Adbrands Social Media 30th Jul 2018: "Logo Love". More striking visuals for The Gap, from what has now become its regular agency Yard NYC. Like the impossible staircase that featured in another recent spot, this child-sized kaleidoscope is a lovely little bit of eye-candy, given extra appeal by its musical tag. That visual snap manages more or less to compensate for what is arguably otherwise the same old denim that Gap has been marketing for the past 20 years... !
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Jun 2018: Gap Inc named Neil Fiske, former head of Australian surfwear brand Billabong, as president of its eponymous brand. His predecessor Jeff Kirwan left the group earlier this year.
Adbrands Weekly Update 10th May 2018: Ads of the Week: "Meet Wearlight Denim". There's a lovely dreamy summertime vibe to the latest campaign for The Gap, from creative boutique Yard NYC. These ads are growing in style and confidence, which raises hopes that the long-struggling retailer might finally be rediscovering its creative mojo. All we need now is a denim come-back. It's one of the more unusual uses we've seen in recent years for the celebrated Penrose Staircase (look it up) made famous by artist MC Escher. (Incidentally top marks to the Adbrands reader who spotted a possible inspirational influence in The Mechanics of History, a performance art piece by Yoann Bourgeois).
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