Jan 28, 2009
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Gap names chief merchandising officer at Old Navy

Jan 28, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Gap Inc (GPS.N) named former Levi Strauss & Co executive Mark Breitbard the chief merchandising and creative officer for Old Navy, its lower-cost family clothing chain that has struggled to find its footing amid declining traffic.

Old Navy spring-summer 2009

Breitbard, who had left Gap in 2005 after nearly a decade, will report to Old Navy President Tom Wyatt, the company said on Wednesday. He will be responsible for product strategy, from design conception to final presentation in stores.

Breitbard, 40, most recently was president of the retail division at jeans maker Levi Strauss. Before that, he was a senior vice president and general manager at teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF.N).

Between 1997 and 2005, he held key merchandising positions at Gap's three brands, working in product areas including Gap Body, men's denim at Old Navy and suits at Banana Republic.

Old Navy, which is known for its large, warehouse-type stores, is Gap's nearly 15-year-old brand whose motto is "fashion, family and value." The company has been trying to turn around the chain, which has seen a long string of declining same-store sales in recent years amid fierce competition.

Over the past year and a half, Gap has hired new executives -- including designer Todd Oldham as creative director -- to redefine its customer target, revamp its product assortment and roll out new store designs.

Old Navy, under Wyatt's direction, has been finding a balance between casual basics appropriate for all members of the family, and more fashionable items that can differentiate it from a sea of rivals. (Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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