Gap looks to ‘next chapter’ with return of CMO role  

The fashion retailer has appointed former PepsiCo and Nike marketer Fabiola Torres as its new global CMO, a position left open since 2022.

GapGap has hired PepsiCo marketer Fabiola Torres as its new global CMO, with a view to building brand “momentum” as the fashion retailer’s turnaround project continues.

With a remit spanning marketing, creative, PR and visual merchandising, Torres fills a role left vacant since the departure of former CMO Mary Alderete in November 2022.

She joins Gap from PepsiCo, where she served most recently as senior vice-president/CMO of the energy drinks portfolio and Hispanic business unit. Prior to joining PepsiCo in 2020, Torres spent two years at Apple, culminating with a year as vice-president of global marketing.

Her time at Apple was preceded by 18 years at Nike, where Torres rose from advertising manager and marketing director at Nike Mexico, to head of global sneaker culture. She kicked off her marketing career as a senior international marketing executive at Heineken Mexico.

Gap pledges to ‘up its game’ on marketing amid effectiveness push

Reacting to her appointment on LinkedIn, Torres described Gap as an “iconic brand with a compelling history”, adding: “I’m looking forward to being a part of the next chapter of this brand, building its future and championing Gap’s amazing legacy.”

In a memo to staff, president and Gap brand CEO Mark Breitbard explained the company was looking for a leader to “navigate transformation, build brands that shape culture and lead with purpose”. He added in a LinkedIn post that the hire of Torres would build on the brand’s “momentum”.

She joins a company headed up by CEO Richard Dickson, poached by Gap in August 2023 from his role as chief operating officer at Mattel. Speaking on his appointment, Dickson described the group as entering a “new era”, the goal being to “truly reset” in a bid to drive long-term success.

Effectiveness push

This ambition was evidenced in November, when the Gap CEO claimed marketing “with conviction” is central to the company’s reinvigoration efforts. He told analysts at the time a reliance on tactical executions had stopped the business focusing on effectiveness.

Dickson admitted the company does “a lot of marketing that could be more effective”, describing the need for financial discipline around marketing and media effectiveness.

He promised consumers Gap will offer “creative, consistent, bold narrative breakthrough marketing”, although this will not necessarily be reflected in increased spending.

“It’s about being more effective with what we spend. Over the years, I’d argue that our marketing execution has been very, very tactical. And in some cases, on some brands, we’ve lost relevance and a narrative edge,” Dickson said.

“But when you look at our company history, we have legendary marketing. And I am very confident that we will again, it is a critical part of our reinvigoration work.”

Torres and her team have work to do as performance across the Gap group remains sluggish. Net sales for the full year ending 3 February fell 5% to $14.9bn (£1.9bn), compared to the same period last year. On the Gap brand specifically, full year net sales were down 11% to $3.3bn (£2.6bn).

Company-wide store sales decreased 3% compared to last year, with online sales down 7%, representing 37% of total net sales.

Reflecting on the results, Dickson claimed the business would continue to pursue “financial and operational rigour” and focus on “reinvigorating” its portfolio of brands. The Gap CEO did, however, admit there was “a lot of work to do”.