Founded in 1969 by Donald Fisher and Doris F. Fisher as a modest store that stocked Levi’s, American worldwide clothing and accessories retailer Gap Inc. now owns Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta and Intermix and operates in more than ninety countries. The company operates four primary divisions: Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta. Interestingly Gap Inc. is the largest specialty retailer in the United States and third on the international fashion map behind Inditex Group and H&M. The Fisher family remains deeply involved in the company, collectively owning much of its stock.
In 1969 Donald Fisher, friend of Walter “Wally” Haas Jr, President of Levi Strauss and Co., was impressed with the success of ‘The Tower of Shoes’ in Sacramento, California. The modest store drew crowds by advertising that no matter what brand, style or size of shoes a woman desired, she would find it. Aware that Macy’s, the biggest Levi’s stockist, was continually running out of best-sellers, Fisher requested Haas to let him stock Levi’s and mimic The Tower of Shoes’ business model. They worked out a plan that ensured Gap — named by Fisher’s wife, Dorothy — would never be out of stock by overnight replenishment. It was a hit.
Fisher opened Gap stores in San Francisco and San Jose, stocking only Levi’s and LP records, and within two years established its corporate headquarters in Burlingame, California. By 1973, the company had over twenty-five stores and had expanded into the East Coast with a store in Voorhees, New Jersey. In 1976, The Gap Stores, Inc. went public with an initial offering of 1.2 million shares of stock at $18 per share. The following year, it opened two new chains: Logo, targeting a fashion conscious customer and brands, offering value-priced products. 1978 witnessed Gap’s label of denim and corduroys.
In the Eighties Gap Inc. purchased Banana Republic, a safari-themed retail chain and catalog business founded in Mill Valley, California and began expanding overseas. In 1986, GapKids opened in San Mateo, California. In the Nineties, Levi’s was no longer sold in Gap and the company revamped its inventory under the direction of Millard Drexler. He resigned in 2002 after a slump in sales and was replaced by Paul Pressler who is credited with closing under-performing stores and clearing debt.
However, he failed to recover the company’s market leadership and was replaced by Robert J. Fisher on interim until Glenn Murphy took over the reins. Gap subsidiary Old Navy opened in Colma, California, based on the successful prototype, Gap Warehouse. New lead designers were also brought on board to give the brand a fashionable image, including Patrick Robinson for Gap Adult, Simon Kneen for Banana Republic, and Todd Oldham for Old Navy.
In 2003, Madonna and Missy Elliot starred in a Gap commercial to promote corduroys and blue jeans. In 2013, Gap Inc. acquired Intermix, a chain of luxury boutiques across North America, founded in 1993 by Khajak and Haro Keledijan. In 2019, Janie and Jack, a high-end children’s store, was acquired. In recent times, Gap Inch allied with financial technology company Afterpay to improve its e-commerce business. Per Forbes, Gap Inc. stocks “increased by almost 63% from the beginning of 2021 (at $20) to $33 per share currently.” [June 2021]
Today Richard Dickson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Gap Inc., leading its $15 billion business and a global team of nearly 90,000 across a portfolio including Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta.
To democratise fashion and make shopping fun again.
To create emotional connections with customers around the world through inspiring product design, unique store experiences, and competitive marketing.
Richard Dickson (Chairman and CEO)
Katrina O’Connell (CFO)
Mark Breitbard (CEO of Gap Brand)
Mary Beth Laughton (President and CEO of Athleta)
Gurmeet Singh (Chief Digital and Technology Officer)
Cammeron Finnegan McLaughlin (Head of Investor Relations)
Julie Gruber (Chief Legal and Compliance Officer and Corp. Secretary)
Sheila Peters (Chief People Officer)
Thomas J. Lima (General Counsel)
Sally Gilligan (Chief Growth Transformation Officer)
The Gap, Inc. operates as an apparel retail company. The company offers apparel, accessories, and personal care products for men, women, and children under the Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta brands. Its products include denim, tees, fleece, and khakis; eyewear, jewellery, shoes, handbags and fragrances; and fitness and lifestyle products for use in yoga, training, sports, travel and everyday activities for women and girls. The company offers its products through company-operated stores, franchise stores, websites, third-party arrangements and catalogs. It also has franchise agreements with unaffiliated franchisees to operate Old Navy, Gap, Athleta and Banana Republic stores and websites in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
In 2019, Gap Inc. won for Best Company Work-Life Balance. Based on 4,018 ratings and 411 participants, employees at Gap Inc. are less satisfied with their work experience. The overall culture score, 66/100 or C, incorporates employee ratings based on their feedback on the Compensation, Leadership, Meetings and more.