Gap-History | Introduction
History of Gap
Fisher opened the first Gap store on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco on August 21, 1969; its only merchandise consisted of Levi's and LP records to attract teen customers. In 1970, Gap opened its second store in San Jose. In 1971, Gap established its corporate headquarters in Burlingame, California with four employees
The Gap, Inc., commonly known as Gap Inc. or Gap, (stylized as GAP) is an American worldwide clothing and accessories retailer.
It was founded in 1969 by Donald Fisher and Doris F. Fisher and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company operates five primary divisions: Gap (the namesake banner), banana republic, Old Navy, Intermix, Waddington Way, and Athlete. Gap Inc. is the largest specialty retailer in the United States, and is 3rd in total international locations, behind Inditex Group and H&M. As of September 2008, the company has approximately 135,000 employees and operates 3,727 stores worldwide, of which 2,406 are located in the U.S.
The Fisher family remains deeply involved in the company, collectively owning much of its stock. Donald Fisher served as Chairman of the Board until 2004, playing a role in the ouster of then-CEO Millard Drexler in 2002, and remained on the board until his death on September 27, 2009. Fisher's wife and their son, Robert J. Fisher, also serve on Gap's board of directors. Robert succeeded his father as chairman in 2004 and also served as CEO on an interim basis following the resignation of Paul Pressler in 2007, before being succeeded by Glenn K. Murphy up until 2014. On February 1, 2015, Art Peck took over as CEO of Gap Inc.
In 1959, Don Fisher, a California commercial real estate broker specializing in retail store location, was a social friend of Walter "Wally" Haas Jr, President of Levi Strauss & Co. Fisher was inspired by the sudden success of 'The Tower of Shoes' in an old Quonset Hut in a non-retail industrial area of Sacramento, California. a terrible retail location), that drew crowds by advertising that no matter what brand, style or size of shoes a woman could want it was at The Tower of Shoes. And knowing that even Macy's, the biggest Levi's customer, was constantly running out of the best selling Levi's sizes, and colors, Fisher asked Haas to let him copy The Tower of Shoes' business model and apply it to Levi's products. Haas referred Fisher to Bud Robinson, his Director of Advertising, for what Haas assumed would be a quick refusal; but instead Robinson and Fisher carefully worked out a legal test plan for what was to become The Gap (named by Don's wife Doris Fisher).
Fisher agreed to stock only Levi's apparel in every style and size, all grouped by size, and Levi's guaranteed The Gap to be never out of stock by overnight replenishment from Levi's San Jose, California warehouse. And finally, Robinson offered to pay 50% of The Gap's radio advertising upfront and avoided antitrust laws by offering the same marketing package to any store that agreed to sell nothing but Levi's products.
Fisher opened the first Gap store on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco on August 21, 1969; its only merchandise consisted of Levi's and LP records to attract teen customers.
In 1970, Gap opened its second store in San Jose. In 1971, Gap established its corporate headquarters in Burlingame, California with four employees. By 1973, the company had over 25 locations and had expanded into the East Coast market with a store in the Echelon Mall in Voorhees, New Jersey. In 1974, Gap began to sell private-label merchandise.
In the 1990s, Gap assumed an upscale identity and revamped its inventory under the direction of Millard Drexler.However, Drexler was removed from his position after 19 years of service in 2002 after over-expansion, a 29-month slump in sales, and tensions with the Fisher family. Drexler refused to sign a non-compete agreement and eventually became CEO of J. Crew. One month after his departure, merchandise that he had ordered was responsible for a strong rebound in sales.Robert J. Fisher recruited Paul Pressler as the new CEO; he was credited with closing under-performing locations and paying off debt. However, his focus groups failed to recover the company's leadership in its market.
In 2007, Gap announced that it would "focus [its] efforts on recruiting a chief executive officer who has deep retailing and merchandising experience ideally in apparel, understands the creative process and can effectively execute strategies in large, complex environments while maintaining strong financial discipline". That January, Pressler resigned after two disappointing holiday sales seasons and was succeeded by Robert J. Fisher on an interim basis.He began working with the company in 1980 and joined the board in 1990, and would later assume several senior executive positions, including president of Banana Republic and the Gap units. The board's search committee was led by Adrian Bellamy, chairman of The Body Shop International and included founder Donald Fisher. On February 2, Marka Hansen, the former head of the Banana Republic division, replaced Cynthia Harriss as the leader of the Gap division. The executive president for marketing and merchandising Jack Calhoun became interim president of Banana Republic. In May, Old Navy laid off approximately 300 managers in lower volume locations to help streamline costs. That July, Glenn Murphy, previously CEO of Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada, was announced as the new CEO of Gap, Inc. New lead designers were also brought on board to help define a fashionable image, including Patrick Robinson for Gap Adult, Simon Kneen for Banana Republic, and Todd Oldham for Old Navy. Robinson was hired as chief designer in 2007, but was dismissed in May 2011 after sales failed to increase. However, he enjoyed commercial success in international markets. In 2007, Ethisphere Magazine chose Gap from among thousands of companies evaluated as one of 100 "World's Most Ethical Companies."
In October 2011, Gap Inc. announced plans to close 189 US stores, nearly 21 percent, by the end of 2013; however, it also plans to expand its presence in China. The company announced it would open its first stores in Brazil in the Fall of 2013.