Gap’s New Concept-To-Be For Women 35+

Sep 16, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Gary Muto has a new challenge. The until recently president of the U.S. division of The Gap, Mr. Muto has been given the task of developing a new apparel chain targeting 35-year-old plus women from the ground up.

The company hopes to have 10 stores for the as yet unnamed retail chain up and running in two different geographic regions by the second half of next year.

“We (Gap Inc.) have a lower share of this customer than we do of a younger customer,” said Mr. Muto. “To me, it’s a great opportunity.”

Mr. Muto will report directly to Gap Inc. president and chief executive officer, Paul Pressler.

“Gary has hired and nurtured some of our best designers and merchants and understands how to evolve brands, having spent much of his career with Gap and Banana Republic,” said Mr. Pressler in a released statement. “Gary is the right person to build the team for our new brand concept and ensure our brand vision is well-executed through compelling product design and merchandising in an exceptional store environment.”

Earlier in the week, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Pressler said the new chain will “have its own personality, look, feel, its own ‘back story. It will feel different.”

Moderator’s Comment: What will be the keys to success for Gap’s new chain?

Gap Inc.’s goal is to create a retail brand that becomes the preferred destination for consumers who currently shop at AnnTaylor Stores, Chico’s FAS, Eileen
Fisher, Talbots and other stores serving the 35 plus female demographic.

To accomplish its goal, the chain will need to understand a very independent minded consumer.

Philip H. Kowalczyk, a managing director at Kurt Salmon Associates told The Wall Street Journal, that these consumers are very clear on “what their
individual look needs to be.” He added, “They don’t view themselves as approaching retirement. Fashion is still important, and they have taken better care of their bodies.”

George Anderson – Moderator

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