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Gap on Tuesday said Mark Breitbard was returning to the company as president and chief executive of its struggling Banana Republic brand.

Mr Breitbard, who stepped down as chief executive of struggling children’s clothing retailer Gymboree in January, will join the company in early May and report to Gap CEO Art Peck.

He had previously held leadership positions across Gap North America, “where he was instrumental in delivering the product-led resurgence” of its business according to a Gap statement. Mr Breitbard had also served as chief creative officer of Old Navy and held other leadership positions at Levi Strauss and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Mr Breitbard will replace Andi Owen who left the company last month. Mr Peck announced Ms Owen’s departure in January, noting that she had helped improve the brand’s aesthetic and product quality but that there was “significant work to do in order to consistently win with customers” and that both agreed that “now was an appropriate time for a change in leadership”

The appointment comes as Gap is trying to revive sales at Banana Republic, its smallest division, that has been hamstrung by a string of product misses. While like-for-like sales at Gap rose 2 per cent in the fourth quarter, they fell 7 per cent in its Banana Republic division.

Gap like other clothing retailers has been hurt by rising competition from online retailers like Amazon and fast-fashion names like H&M and Zara that mimic runway looks for a fraction of the cost. Shares fell more than 46 per cent between 2015 and 2016.

The company managed to post its first quarterly revenue growth in eight in the final three months of 2016 and has seen its shares advance nearly 6 per cent year-to-date.

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