Gap CEO Murphy to retire, digital head Peck to take over

Wed Oct 8, 2014 6:44pm EDT
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By Yashaswini Swamynathan

(Reuters) - Gap Inc (GPS.N: Quote) Chief Executive Glenn Murphy will retire in February and hand over the reins of the apparel retailer to its digital business head Art Peck, as the company looks to tap customers' increasing preference for online shopping.

Shares of Gap, which reported weaker-than-expected same-store sales for September, fell about 8 percent in extended trading.

Peck's appointment comes into effect on Feb. 1, Gap said in a statement. He will also join the board of the company, which owns fashion brands such as Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy.

"I don't think there will be a massive shift in strategy going forward," Morningstar analyst Bridget Weishaar told Reuters.

Peck, 58, joined Gap in 2005 after more than 20 years at Boston Consulting Group. He headed Gap's North America business, which accounts for more than three-quarters of its revenue, in 2011 and 2012.

"I think he has the relevant experience necessary to continue to execute on ongoing strategic initiatives, including global expansion, digital and margin expansion," Weishaar said.

Gap has been looking to reduce its dependence on the highly competitive North American market. The retailer said in August that it would open 40 stores in India as part of its plan to expand in emerging markets.

The company had 80 stores in China at the end of 2013. "We'll have 110 stores in the country by the end of this year and we predict China can become a billion-dollar market for Gap in the coming years," Peck said on a conference call.   Continued...

The sign outside a Gap store is seen in Broomfield, Colorado February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking