For­mer Bil­l­abong CEO’s new home

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - BUSINESS - ALIS­TER THOM­SON alis­ter.thom­son@news.com.au

SOME would say ex-Bil­l­abong CEO Neil Fiske has man­aged to es­cape the churn only to swim into a rip.

But his new em­ployer, Gap Inc, will be hop­ing he can find a fi­nan­cial bar­rel to ride to hap­pier shores.

Mr Fiske, who ex­ited the iconic Gold Coast sur­fwear com­pany af­ter it was taken over by Board­rid­ers, the Cal­i­for­nia-based own­ers of Quik­sil­ver, has been ap­pointed to the head of an­other strug­gling re­tailer — this time as pres­i­dent and CE of Gap brand.

The re­tailer’s stores, which were op­er­ated un­der li­cence by Oro­ton Group in Aus­tralia, closed their doors ear­lier this year.

Gap Inc an­nounced last year that it would close 200 un­der­per­form­ing Gap and Ba­nana Repub­lic stores in the US to fo­cus on more promis­ing brands.

A state­ment to the New York Stock Ex­change says Mr Fiske has a track record of trans­form­ing and repo­si­tion­ing brands.

“He is an ex­pe­ri­enced leader who deeply un­der­stands the me­chan­ics of this busi­ness, the value of an om­nichan­nel strat­egy, and the need to build a pro­gres­sive and rel­e­vant brand. I be­lieve Neil is the right leader to strengthen Gap brand,” Gap Inc pres­i­dent and CEO Art Peck said in a state­ment.

Mr Fiske said he is ex­cited about tak­ing on an “iconic” brand.

“I am ex­cited about the sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity ahead for us,” Mr Fiske said.

“The brand has made some im­por­tant progress and I look for­ward to work­ing with the team to drive im­proved per­for­mance, op­er­a­tional ex­cel­lence, great mer­chan­dis­ing, and dis­tinc­tive and pow­er­ful mar­ket­ing.”

Gap Inc had net sales of $US15.9 bil­lion ($21 bil­lion) for the 12 months to Septem­ber last year.

Its prod­ucts are avail­able for pur­chase in 90 coun­tries around the world.

Mr Fiske, whose other roles have in­cluded CEO at Bath and Body Works, be­gan his career at Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group, where he fo­cused on con­sumer goods and retail.

He was brought in by US pri­vate eq­uity groups in 2013 to re­vive Bil­l­abong’s for­tunes.

How­ever, the com­pany failed to adapt to a chang­ing retail en­vi­ron­ment and was bought by Board­rid­ers for a frac­tion of its value 10 years ago.

Ex-Bil­l­abong CEO Neil Fiske has been ap­pointed CEO and pres­i­dent at Gap brand.

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