Chimney Sweep

Retailer Hole’s Struggles Are Larger Than Any One CEO

After a year-long search, struggling retailer Gap Inc. has found a new chief executive officer in Richard Dickson, the president and chief operating officer of toy company Mattel Inc. The owner of such brands as Gap, Old Navy and Athleta praised Dickson’s track record as a “proven transformational brand builder” who it hopes “redefines the future potential” of Gap, whose stock surged as much as 9%. Here’s hoping for Gap’s sake.

What the San Francisco-based retailer failed to mention in its announcement is that Dickson becomes the seventh CEO over the last 20 years to take on the challenge of turning around Gap’s ailing fortunes. In that time, Gap’s shares have fallen 48%, compared with a gain of 356% for the benchmark S&P 500 Index. Such performance over a sustained period of time suggests Gap’s troubles are deeply structural, and it’s fair to ask whether any one person can right this ship.

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