You’d think that Old Navy, Gap’s bargain-priced little brother, would thrive in a poor economy—surely, the time is right for twelve-dollar sweaters for the whole family. Not so much. In December, comparable store sales at Old Navy were down 16%, compared to 8% last year. And so Gap Inc. is bringing back Mark Breitbard, who left the company in 2005 for posts at Abercrombie and Fitch (where he launched its Banana Republic-esque Ruehl brand) and then Levi Strauss & Co. (where he headed up the retail division). Breitbard will return to Gap Inc. as chief merchandising and creative officer leading design and merchandising at Old Navy.
Reporting directly to Old Navy president Tom Wyatt, Breitbard “will guide product strategy for the brand from design conception to product assortment through to its final presentation in stores,” said the company in a statement issued yesterday. From 1997 through 2005, Breitbard held a variety of merchandising roles at Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic ultimately serving as a senior vice president. No word as to what this appointment might mean for Todd Oldham‘s role as Old Navy creative director.