Simpson Associates


MarketWatch – from DowJones

Where have all the great ‘merchants’ of retail gone?
As Gap Inc. seeks a turnaround guru, it faces slim pickings, analyst say

By Jennifer Waters

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) – Help Wanted: Veteran retail executive who will lead a turnaround at one of the nation’s largest
apparel makers. Must have flair for fashion, be brilliant in tapping trends before they happen, and understand consumers’
changing tastes. Ability to start right away a plus.

So begins the hard part for Gap Inc.

Monday’s announcement that Chief Executive Paul Pressler and his board of directors had “mutually agreed” on his departure
was widely expected and may have well have been just a taste of what awaits the San Francisco retailer as it seeks to dig out
from years of flagging fortunes.

“This is a tough search,” said Terre Simpson, a 20-year firm veteran who runs Simpson
Associates, an executive recruitment firm in New York.

By Simpson’s thinking, for example, Pressler, who led Disney’s theme parks before going to Gap,
was intelligent enough and had the management experience to be a CEO. But he lacked what
would be considered the equivalent of retail’s street smarts: merchandising know-how.

“This is an industry that’s not predicated on a high level of education,” Simpson said. “It’s
predicated on the inherent skill and gift of being a good merchant. That’s not simply a learned

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