Gap hires Mattel president to be its new CEO

The retailer Mattel has announced that Richard Dickson will assume the position of CEO. Dickson has been with Mattel for 20 years and has helped revitalize the Barbie brand.

Gap hires Mattel president to be its new CEO

New York CNN

Gap named Mattel as its new CEO nearly a full year after the departure of their previous leader.

Richard Dickson will take over the role of Mattel's President and Chief Operating Officer, announced the retailer on Wednesday. He has been with Mattel for 20 years. Most recently, he was responsible for revitalizing the Barbie brand. He was also a former manager at Jones New York where he managed a number brands such as Nine West for 10 years before joining Mattel.

Dickson stated in a press release that Gap was a portfolio of iconic brands. It is known for its bold thinking, and the fact that it has made quality fashion affordable to millions. The work ahead is what excites me the most. I'm excited to be able to work with the Gap teams to help evolve Gap into a new era.

Dickson starts at the Gap August 22.

The film grossed $155 million in the US over the weekend. This is the largest opening weekend for 2023, and the most successful debut ever for a woman director.

Gap shares (GPS), which opened early, jumped by more than 7%. It's still down around 10% for the entire year.

Neil Saunders said that Dickson, the managing director of GlobalData in a letter, is a "very solid appointment" who brings a fresh perspective, as well as extensive skills in branding and innovation.

He said that his reinvention of Barbie, which is currently on a high note, was also proof that he understood how to revive established brands who have lost their energy and steam. This is the exact challenge he'll need to tackle at Gap.

Chris Blakeslee was announced as the CEO of Athleta by Gap earlier this week. He was most recently the CEO of Alo Yoga, a trendy newcomer that Gap is trying to compete against for its female-focused division.

Gap's decline

Gap, the once-cool symbol, has struggled for years. The brand has seen its sales plummet and is now a distant memory for American consumers who have shifted their spending to competitors like H&M and Zara.

The 54-year old brand rode on the expansion of suburb malls in 1980s and 1990s to become one of the biggest mall stores in US. Its fortunes were largely tied to the fortunes of malls, which was great in the 1990s, but not so good now. Online shopping and big-box retailers are stealing customers from malls.

The retailer is forced to close 30 Gap and Banana Republic shops in North America next year due to the decline.

Gap tried a number of strategies to revitalize their flagship brand. One was a partnership with Kanye for a line branded Yeezy. The partnership failed when Kanye West announced in September 2022 that he would end the partnership after only two years due to'substantial lack of compliance'. Gap pulled out the merchandise a month later after West's antisemitic remarks.

Gap and Mattel formed a partnership in apparel earlier this year. Barbie clothing was included in the partnership.

The new CEO faces many challenges

Dickson replaces Sonia Syngal who worked at the company only for two years. Gap has been struggling for decades.

Mickey Drexler is the man who turned Gap into an industry leader in the 1990s. Drexler, who was first the president of Gap's division and then CEO of the company starting in 1995 pushed Gap into expanding beyond jeans to khakis. He also oversaw the creation in 1994 of budget-chain Old Navy.

Gap also lost touch with its core customer base during Drexler’s tenure. At the end of Drexler's reign, Gap suffered 24 consecutive quarters of declining same-store sales. He stepped down from his position in 2002. Dickson is also facing challenges from Old Navy and Banana Republic.

Art Peck, a Gap veteran, was replaced by Syngal in 2020. Syngal succeeded Peck as CEO in 2020.

The core Gap brand needs to reinvented. Old Navy's problems need to be resolved. Banana Republic's recovery is faltering. And Athleta has lost its momentum. Saunders stated that being the CEO of Gap was not for those who were weak-hearted.