订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业

首席执行官黯然下台,谁来帮助Gap重振雄风

Kate Bowers 2019年11月17日

不计Old Navy的业绩,Gap的运营利润率从2016年销售额的4%下降至2018年销售额的2%。

今年9月,Gap公司的首席执行官亚特·佩克主持了分析师接待会,提出了将Old Navy品牌抛售给金融界的决定。如今,在该公司供职四年之后,佩克已经离开了公司,而留下的却是销售业绩的下滑,Old Navy品牌何去何从的不确定性,以及一个大难题——谁能够重振这个标志性的美国零售商。

晨星公司(Morningstar)的股票分析师大卫·斯瓦茨表示:“很明显,这一切并不在计划之中。对于不得不替换首席执行官的公司来说,圣诞节是一个糟糕的时机。”

在正常情况下,零售公司的董事会可能会先看看假日季的业绩,甚至会等到人们使用可以提振1月业绩的礼品卡之后,才会去评估高管的表现。

斯瓦茨说:“我认为他们可能不会看到圣诞奇迹的出现,而且他们当前就得做出重大调整。”

董事会主席、公司创始人多瑞斯和唐纳德·费舍之子罗伯特·费舍将担任临时首席执行官。费舍家族是Gap最大的股东,持股比例达到了43%。35年以来,罗伯特·费舍一直参与公司的经营。

但65岁的费舍只不过是临时领导者,而且他还得打理自己在Gap之外的投资。谁能够取代佩克,并重新调整公司166亿美元的品牌组合?Gap公司旗下品牌包括Gap、Old Navy、Banana Republic、Athleta和小型高端精品连锁店Intermix。

公司发言人表示,Gap还未宣布佩克继任人选选择的时间表。但费舍在一篇新闻稿中说:“随着董事会评估潜在的继任者,公司的关注的是那些有着强大领导力的候选人,而且他应该有能力实现卓越的运营,从而提升效率、速度和盈利能力。”

然而,这类人并非是MKM Partners董事总经理洛克萨妮·梅耶心目中的人选。

她在一篇研究批注中写道:“我们认为董事会寻找一位卓越的运营者担任首席执行官的做法是错误的。”她向《财富》杂志透露,她认为公司需招聘一名商人,类似于热衷于产品和客户的Gap前首席执行官米基·德瑞克斯勒,而不是一名将大部分精力花在效率方面的“运营者”。

她写道:“在品牌内涵缺失的情况下,在技术方面下气力毫无意义。在我们看来,简单来说,在Gap所处的后期阶段,运营者可能会成为压垮骆驼的稻草,除非其目标是剥离Athleta或关闭大多数店面。”

主打运动休闲理念的Athleta经营状况良好,但它只占销售业绩的一小部分,约占166亿美元的6%,而且公司并未披露该连锁店的运营利润率是多少。

仅同意匿名披露的高管猎头与梅耶有着同样的看法:Gap不应该再找一位专注于效率的运营者。他说,Gap需要一位“对客户痴迷的企业领导者”。他们需要的是一位将客户的穿着和购物方式看作是自己衣食住行的领导者。

这一点是Old Navy的总裁兼首席执行官索尼娅·辛格尔的最佳写照。她安装了一个流动字幕液晶屏,来显示客户对公司大厅的评价。尽管业界广泛认为她是Gap首席执行官一职的最佳内部人选,但如果董事会执行剥离Old Navy的决定,那么辛格尔就无法担任这一职务。而且即便Old Navy依然留在Gap公司,让辛格尔离开这个令人愉悦的低价时尚品牌可能会带来巨大的风险,因为Old Navy贡献了Gap公司近一半的营收。2018年,Gap47%的营收来自于Old Navy。

那么谁才是Gap新首席执行官的合适人选。公司在20世纪90年代曾经在德瑞克斯勒的领导下一飞冲天,但自此之后在一定程度上一直在艰难度日。

一名猎头表示,在同等规模公司工作过、担任过类似职务的候选人可谓是凤毛麟角,他说:“说到零售业,服装领域尤为萧瑟。很少有特种零售商拥有Gap这样的规模,或拥有多个品牌。”

出于必要,Gap可能会从服装行业之外的领域招人,例如药店、医院、美容或消费包装品。他们可能会将目光投向星巴克、塔吉特和沃尔玛的人才,或考虑尝试把史蒂芬·拉森请回来,史蒂芬曾经带领Old Navy 实现了连续12个季度的增长,曾经短暂担任拉夫·劳伦的首席执行官。但其回来的可能性不大:拉森目前是PVH的总裁,旗下品牌包括CK、Tommy Hilfiger和Heritage Brands,而且是今年6月刚上任。

弗吉尼亚大学达顿商学院研究首席执行官继任规划的助理教授Yo-Ju Cheng表示,继任时间表的缺失为Gap蒙上了不确定性的阴影。市场不知道该如何应对,而且从内部来讲,一些高管可能开始准备其简历,寻找新机会。

然而她说,Gap董事会不能在人选方面操之过急。她指出,不合适的人选可能会导致“下旋式破坏以及计划外首席执行官继任问题的再度出现”。她提到了彭尼百货这个案例。该公司自从2011年以来已经四次更换首席执行官——罗恩·强森、迈克·乌尔曼、马文·艾利森和吉尔·索尔图。首席执行官的频繁更迭为该公司带来了动荡。

除了Athleta之外,Gap旗下的所有品牌都遇到了困境。Gap在宣布佩克离开公司的同一份声明中表示,全公司同店可比销售额(通常被认为是零售商健康度的关键指标)第三季度下滑了4%。即便是公司多年来盈利最高、最多产的品牌Old Navy也出现了连续第三次可比销售额下滑的情况。总的来说,这些业绩远低于华尔街的预期。

Gap的执行副总裁兼首席财务官特瑞·利斯特斯托尔在声明中说:“这是一个充满挑战的季度,主要品牌所面临的产品和运营挑战对业绩产生了不利影响,而宏观环境的影响和客流量的减少加剧了业绩压力。我们对公司的各大品牌及其背后才华横溢的支持团队充满了信心,而且我们看到,一些关键领域的状况也有所改善。然而,我们应该更加努力,利用我们已经投资开发的功能,并交付我们坚信这些品牌能够交付的盈利性增长。”

公司投资者日公布的未经审计的数据显示,不计Old Navy的业绩,Gap的运营利润率(按息税前盈利调整后)从2016年销售额的4%下降至2018年销售额的2%。

鉴于今年客流量的下滑,晨星公司的斯瓦茨预计Gap公司的盈利会遭到进一步的侵蚀。他说:“当你看到这则[新闻]时会想,如果不计Old Navy,Gap公司还赚钱吗?”

梅耶写道,Gap“在首席执行官佩克的领导下基本上没有什么起色。”他还说第三季度营收的下滑以及更低的第四季度预期可能是导致佩克离职的“最后一根稻草”。

那么问题来了,如果剥离了Old Navy,Gap还能活吗?

到目前为止,公司依然坚持实施其计划。

在佩克离职的声明发布之后,Gap管理层已经首肯了其看法,即“Old Navy作为独立公司可以斩获更好的业绩”。公司还向分析师透露,它将在11月21日的营收电话会议上公布有关该剥离交易的任何潜在变化及其时间表。(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

In September, Gap Inc.’s CEO Art Peck hosted an analyst day to sell the decision to spin-off Old Navy to the financial community. Now, after four years at the helm, Peck is out, leaving declining sales, uncertainty about an Old Navy spin-off, and a big question about who can reimagine an iconic American retailer.

“Obviously this was not planned,” said David Swartz, equity analyst for Morningstar. “Christmas is a bad time to have to replace your CEO.”

Under normal circumstances, retail boards may wait for the holiday scorecard—and even the gift card redemptions that tend to boost January—before assessing an executive’s performance, but not this time.

“I think they could see no Christmas miracle was coming, and they had to make a major change right now,” Swartz said.

Robert J. Fisher, chairman of the board and son of founders Doris and Donald Fisher, will serve as interim CEO. The Fisher family is the Gap’s biggest shareholder, holding 43% of the stock; Robert Fisher has been involved with company operations for 35 years.

But Fisher, 65 years old and with investments outside Gap to manage, is just an interim leader. Who can replace Peck and tackle recalibrating the $16.6 billion company’s brand portfolio? Gap Inc. owns Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, and Intermix, a small chain of high-end boutiques.

A spokesperson for the company said it has not announced a timeline to replace Peck. But in a press release, Fisher said, “As the Board evaluates potential successors, our focus will be on strong leadership candidates with operational excellence to drive greater efficiency, speed, and profitability.”

That’s not the signal that Roxanne Meyer, managing director of MKM Partners, hoped for.

“We think the Board is making a mistake in searching for its next great operator as CEO,” she wrote in a research note. She confirmed to Fortune that she believes the company needs to recruit a merchant—someone like former Gap CEO Mickey Drexler, who was passionate about product and customers—rather than an “operator” who is mostly focused on efficiency.

“If brand DNA is not there, advancing technology is meaningless. In our opinion, simply put, in this late stage for GPS, an operator could be the final axe, unless the goal is to spin-off Athleta or shut the majority of stores,” she wrote.

Athleisure concept Athleta has done well, but it is a fraction of sales—roughly 6% of the $16.6 billion total—and the company has not disclosed what the chain’s operating margins are.

Executive recruiters, who spoke on the agreement of anonymity, agreed with Meyer—it’s a no on another efficiency-focused operator. Gap needs a “customer-obsessed enterprise leader,” one said. They want to see someone eat, sleep, and breathe what the customers are wearing and how they want to shop.

That best describes Sonia Syngal, president and CEO of Old Navy, who installed a chyron-streaming LED screen to showcase customer comments in the company’s main lobby. Though she was widely described as Gap Inc.’s best internal candidate for CEO, Syngal would not be available if the board proceeds with the decision to spin off Old Navy. And even if Old Navy remains under Gap Inc., it may be too risky to move Syngal off the cheap-and-cheerful fashion brand, which brings in nearly half of the company’s revenue. In 2018, Old Navy was responsible for 47% of Gap Inc.’s revenue.

So who could fit at Gap Inc., the company that soared in the 1990s under Drexler but has, to varying degrees, struggled ever since?

“When you look at retail, the air gets really thin in the apparel space,” noted one recruiter, pointing to a lack of candidates who’ve held similar roles at this scale. Few speciality retailers are as large as Gap or have multiple brands

Out of necessity, Gap may recruit outside the apparel industry from drugstore, hospitality, beauty, or consumer packaged goods. They may look for talent at Starbucks, Target, and Walmart or consider trying to woo back Stefan Larsson, who rang up 12 consecutive quarters of growth at Old Navy and then had a brief stint as CEO of Ralph Lauren. But odds on that seem slim: Larsson is currently president of PVH, which operates Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Heritage Brands, a role he took in June.

Yo-Jud Cheng, assistant professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business who studies CEO succession planning, said that the lack of an announced timeline on succession puts a cloud of uncertainty over Gap Inc. The market doesn’t know how to react, and internally, some executives may start readying their resumes and looking elsewhere.

But, she said, the Gap board shouldn’t rush someone into the role. A bad fit could lead to a “downward spiral of disruption and additional subsequent unplanned CEO successions,” she noted, citing J.C. Penney, which has had four CEOs since 2011—Ron Johnson, Mike Ullman, Marvin Ellison, and Jill Soltau—as an example of the turmoil created by a revolving door of CEOs.

With the exception of Athleta, Gap Inc. is struggling across its portfolio. In the same announcement as Peck’s departure, Gap Inc. said that comparable store sales—often cited as critical measure of a retailer’s health—were down 4% across the company for the third quarter. Even Old Navy, which has for years been the company’s most profitable and productive concept, recorded a comparable sales decline, its third in a row. Cumulatively, these results were far worse than Wall Street anticipated.

“This was a challenging quarter, as macro impacts and slower traffic further pressured results that have been hampered by product and operating challenges across key brands,” Teri List-Stoll, Gap Inc. EVP and CFO said in the announcement. “We have tremendous confidence in our brands and the talented organization that supports them, and we are seeing progress in some key areas. However, there is more work to do to leverage the capabilities we have invested in and deliver the profitable growth we know these brands are capable of delivering.”

Excluding Old Navy’s results, Gap Inc.’s operating margin (adjusted for earnings before interest and taxes) has been falling, from 4% percent of sales in 2016 to 2% of sales in 2018, according to unaudited figures presented at the company’s investor day.

Given drops in shopper traffic this year, Morningstar’s Swartz speculated that profits have likely eroded further. “You look at this [news] and think, is Gap, excluding Old Navy, making any money at all?” he said.

Gap “has largely failed to perform under CEO Peck’s watch,” wrote Meyer. He also said that the third quarter earnings miss and lowered fourth quarter expectations were likely “the final straw” on Peck’s tenure.

Then there's the other question—can Gap still afford to separate from Old Navy?

So far, the company is standing by its plan.

Following the announcement of Peck’s departure, Gap management has affirmed its belief that Old Navy can still perform better as a standalone company. The company also told analysts it will report any potential changes to the spin-off or its timing on its November 21 earnings call.

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏