US specialty apparel retailer Gap Inc has named Mary Beth Laughton as president and CEO of its Athleta brand.

Laughton will begin her new role in late October and will serve on Gap's senior leadership team reporting to president and CEO Art Peck.

Laughton has more than 20 year of experience in the retail and digital industry, with a strong background in driving omni-channel growth through innovative experiences at companies, including Sephora and Nike. Most recently, she was EVP of omni retail for Sephora US leading both the e-commerce and stores channels. 

Prior to that, Laughton spent nine years at Nike, in a variety of roles including general manager of e-commerce for Europe and the director of e-commerce for Nike subsidiaries, including Cole Haan, Converse and Hurley.

"Mary Beth brings a strong background in digital operations, a keen understanding of customers and an ability to deliver innovative experiences," says Peck. "She is the right leader for Athleta, with a proven track record in driving consistent results in multiple growth markets, including performance apparel and beauty."

Laughton adds: "Athleta is a powerful brand that empowers women and girls through its inclusive, inspirational community and I am excited about the significant opportunity ahead for us.

"With innovative and sustainable product, beautiful marketing and a strong B Corp certification, Athleta is well-positioned to grow and capture market share."

The women's activewear line will operate under the new Gap Inc alongside the Gap, Banana Republic, Intermix and Hill City labels when Old Navy becomes a standalone company next year. 

The split, which was first announced in March, will see Gap spin off its Old Navy brand into an independent, publicly-traded company.

The next steps for the two businesses were revealed during a 'Meet the Management' investor event earlier this month which saw executives update on the planned separation into two independent publicly traded companies, as well as an overview of strategic priorities for the new Gap Inc and Old Navy.