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03/05/2020

Gap Inc. shakeup; Walmart vet to head Old Navy

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Sonia Syngal
Sonia Syngal

 There's a change in leadership at Gap Inc. and Old Navy.

In a move that caught the industry by surprise, Sonia Syngal is stepping down as president and CEO of Gap Inc. and as a member of the company's board, effective immediately.  She will be replaced in the role on an interim basis by Bob Martin, the company's executive chairman.  Her departure comes as the apparel giant is facing challenges across its namesake, Banana Republic and Old Navy banners.

Martin, a 40-year industry veteran, has served on the Gap Inc. board since 2002, and as lead independent director from 2003 to 2015. He has served as executive chairman since 2020.

In announcing Syngal's departure, the retailer also said it has appointed Horacio “Haio” Barbeito as president and CEO of Old Navy, effective Aug. 1. He succeeds Nancy Green, who left unexpectedly in April.  

Barbeito most recently served as president and CEO of Walmart Canada, where he led more than 70,000 associates and drove significant growth in the online business. During his 26-year career at Walmart, Barbeito served in a variety of leadership roles across merchandising, marketing, supply chain and store operations with experience in five  countries.

He has served in CEO roles at Walmart for 10 years, first as president and CEO of Walmart Argentina and Chile before taking the role as CEO of Walmart Canada.

"Haio is a true multidisciplined retail leader who shares our vision of bringing the democracy of style and service to millions of Old Navy customers, leveraging our greatest assets — our people and our product," said Martin. "We are thrilled for Haio to bring his authentic leadership style to the team, backed by a strong track record of delivering growth through challenging times at complex global organizations." 

In a statement, Syngal, who took the reins of Gap in March 2020, said that "leading this his great company and our 100,000-strong employees since 2020, through unprecedented challenges for our industry, and society, has been an immense honor." 

"With an exceptional and industry-leading CEO for Old Navy now appointed, I am thankful to have the board’s support in stepping down, ushering in a new opportunity for fresh perspective and rejuvenated leadership to carry Gap Inc. forward," she said.