shares jumped Thursday on news that the head of its biggest unit would resign and that the retailer's chief executive, Millard Drexler, was moving to take over the slumping Gap division.
Gap said Thursday that Robert Fisher, president of the Gap division, would leave effective Nov. 15 to take personal leave. Gap shares rallied 9% as investors learned that Drexler, Gap's president and chief executive, planned to take over the daily operations at the Gap unit.
Richard Jaffe, a
senior vice president, said Drexler's shift was the big event. Fisher "made a personal decision and I respect him for that," Jaffe said. But "the real issue is that
Drexler is stepping in to get more involved in the day-to-day operations. I take that as a positive.
"This is the guy who built the Gap, who turned around
... and is now going to focus on the business that was his original effort and get that going again," Jaffe explained.
Retail stocks have slid this fall on fear of rising interest rates, but Gap's fall has been greater than most. Since the summer the stock has lost nearly half its value. Thursday afternoon, Gap was up 2 at 33 5/8.
Fisher, who has been with the company for 19 years, will remain on the company's board of directors.
"He's led the Gap brand through an important period of growth," Drexler said in a statement. "I respect his decision to take some time off and look forward to his ongoing contributions as a board member."
Fisher said the time had come for a change.
"Helping this company grow has been a big part of my life," Fisher said in a statement. "Now I feel it's time to take a personal leave."
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