Blog: Credibility Gap
Leonie Barrie | 18 January 2007
Gap and M&S seem to have dominated my blogs this year, and I make no apologies for singling out these two retail giants. As the UK’s largest clothing retailer, M&S has seen its fortunes ebb and flow in recent years, plunging to rock bottom earlier this decade but managing to climb back with a stellar performance that eclipsed most of its competitors over the key Christmas period. Gap, on the other hand, the largest US-based apparel specialty store, is still on a downward spiral, mired in the midst of falling same-store sales and speculation about the departure of Paul Pressler as Gap CEO and even a possible sale of the company.
Like the M&S of old, Gap seems to have lost its way. It’s out of step with its customers, it can’t seem to make up its mind whether it sells high fashion or basics, and the market seems to have lost confidence in the retailer’s leadership. But crucially – and again there are parallels with M&S – it seems to have retained a great loyalty amongst shoppers, even though they might not be able to find anything in its stores they want to buy. And as long as this brand loyalty still holds out, then surely there’s hope of a recovery.
Our US correspondent Arnold Karr was tasked with finding out more about Gap’s credibility gap, and his observations make for fascinating reading:
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