U.S. News

Gap Names New Head for Flagship Brand


Gap Inc. said on Thursday it has tapped Marka Hansen, president of its Banana Republic brand, to lead the retailer's struggling Gap brand.

Hansen, 53, succeeds Cynthia Harriss, 54, as president of Gap North America. Harriss has resigned from the company.

A 20-year veteran of Gap Inc., Hansen will report to Bob Fisher, the company's interim president and chief executive.

Gap CEO Paul Pressler resigned from the retailer last week after a failed attempt to revive the clothing brand. The company is still seeking a permanent replacement for Pressler. "This is the right decision for Gap," Pacific Growth Equities analyst Christine Chen said of the move. "It also exemplifies that Bob Fisher is really doing something pretty quickly. And time is of the essence because right now all three brands are working on fall and holiday already."

Thursday's announcement was the latest in a series of management shake-ups at the company. Just before Pressler's resignation, the apparel retailer last month announced the departure of Denise Johnston, president of Gap Adult and named Karyn Hillman, formerly of Banana Republic, as senior vice president of merchandising for that business.

The world's largest apparel retailer has been known for its casual, basic American looks for over 30 years, but in recent years it has been struggling to find an audience for Gap and Old Navy, its two main chains, as their merchandise failed to inspire shoppers.

Harriss was one of several Walt Disney veterans to join Gap after Pressler, the former head of Disney's theme parks, became CEO in 2002.

Harriss was president of the Disneyland resort in Southern California before becoming head of Gap's outlet stores in 2004. She was tapped to lead the Gap brand in April of 2005.

Hansen began her career at Gap in 1987 and has held a variety of positions in its international business, human resources and adult merchandising. She became president of Banana Republic in 2003.