Gap Survey

Response Summary
Total Started Survey:  15
Total Finished Survey:  15  (100%)
PAGE: 1
DownloadCreate Chart1. Have you ever gone into a store and the item you wanted in the colour and size was not available, yet they did not give you any other option?
answered question 15
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Response
Percent
Response
Count
Yes
60.0% 9
No
40.0% 6
Please give examples
Hide Responses
4
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Showing 4 text responses

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Zara,

28/11/2012 8:04View Responses

Yes, in debenhams tried on a pair of boots once I eventually tracked a member of staff down, they just said haven’t got that size only whats there didn’t even check out the back of store. Clearly didn’t care.

27/11/2012 19:34View Responses

shoes

27/11/2012 19:33View Responses

Primark, New Look, H&M

27/11/2012 19:28View Responses

DownloadCreate Chart2. Do you prefer being mobile accessible with internet or computer accessible with internet?
answered question 15
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Response
Count
Mobile
66.7% 10
Internet
40.0% 6
Why?
Show Responses
11
DownloadCreate Chart3. Which gender are you?
answered question 15
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Percent
Response
Count
Female
86.7% 13
Male
13.3% 2
DownloadCreate Chart4. Have you ever wanted an item but the service was so bad you wish to get it elsewhere?
answered question 15
skipped question
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Response
Percent
Response
Count
Yes
66.7% 10
No
33.3% 5
Please give examples
Show Responses
7
DownloadCreate Chart5. Have you ever been interested in the fabric composition but don’t want to be fiddling around looking for the care label?
answered question 15
skipped question
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Response
Percent
Response
Count
Yes
60.0% 9
No
40.0% 6
DownloadCreate Chart6. Have you ever gone into a store knowing what you want but can not find because of changes – movements?
answered question 15
skipped question
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Response
Percent
Response
Count
Yes
80.0% 12
No
20.0% 3
DownloadCreate Chart7. Have you ever gone into a store and can not stand the music so leave?
answered question 15
skipped question
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Response
Percent
Response
Count
Yes
60.0% 9
No
40.0% 6
DownloadCreate Chart8. Have you ever wanted to go back to get an item you were unsure of but wish you could just press a button ?
answered question 15
skipped question
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Response
Percent
Response
Count
Yes
86.7% 13
No
13.3% 2
DownloadCreate Chart9. Do you ever like a style, wish it came in other colours but all the staff are busy to check?
answered question 15
skipped question
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Response
Percent
Response
Count
Yes
80.0% 12
No
20.0% 3
DownloadCreate Chart10. Would you like anything you saw to be with you within 24 hours?
answered question 15
skipped question
0
Response
Percent
Response
Count
Yes
93.3% 14
No
6.7% 1

Improving Economy Has Retailers Nordstrom, Inc. and The Gap Inc. Reporting Strong Sales for March – Yahoo Finance

Five Star Equities Provides Stock Research on Nordstrom, Inc. and The Gap Inc.

Five Star Equities Provides Stock Research on Nordstrom, Inc. and The Gap Inc.

Last month was the warmest March for North America in more than 50 years, according to Planalytics. “It puts people in the frame of mind to buy the product,” said Dorothy Lakner, an analyst at Caris & Co. “The other important thing to keep in mind is just the fashion trends — the color is really appealing to people.”

Same store sales are a great way for investors to measure the strength of the industry. The 18 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters posted a 6.9% rise in March same-store sales when a 5.3% gain was expected.

Five Star Equities releases regular market updates on the Retail Industry so investors can stay ahead of the crowd and make the best investment decisions to maximize their returns. Take a few minutes to register with us free at www.fivestarequities.com and get exclusive access to our numerous stock reports and industry newsletters.

Nordstrom, Inc. reported an 8.6 percent increase in same-store sales for the five-week period ended March 31, 2012 compared with the five-week period ended April 2, 2011. Preliminary total retail sales of $1.03 billion for March 2012 increased 14.7 percent compared with total retail sales of $897 million for the same period in fiscal 2011.

Gap Inc. reported that March 2012 net sales increased 10 percent compared with last year. Net sales for the five-week period ended March 31, 2012 were $1.46 billion compared with net sales of $1.33 billion for the five-week period ended April 2, 2011. The company’s comparable sales for March 2012, which include the associated comparable online sales, were up 8 percent compared with a 10 percent decrease for March 2011.

Five Star Equities provides Market Research focused on equities that offer growth opportunities, value, and strong potential return. We strive to provide the most up-to-date market activities. We constantly create research reports and newsletters for our members. Five Star Equities has not been compensated by any of the above-mentioned companies. We act as an independent research portal and are aware that all investment entails inherent risks. Please view the full disclaimer at:
www.fivestarequities.com/disclaimer

Gap Inc. Promises To Stop Child Slave Labor Prove Empty – Irregular Times

JCLIFFORD 10/29/2007

Gap Kids has, once again, been caught using child slave labor in order to make cheap clothes to sell to Americans at low, low prices. Child workers at a subcontractor for Gap Kids reported to investigators that they were forced to work extra hours without being paid, and were commonly subjected to threats and beatings from their supervisors. They worked in true sweatshops, with filthy, unsafe conditions.

Gap Inc., the parent company of Gap Kids, says it’s awfully sorry, and that gosh, it just doesn’t know how this factory could have slipped through its system of screening overseas sources of labor to meet Gap’s high, high ethical standards.

That’s nonsense. Gap Inc. outsources jobs overseas for a very simple reason: So that they can pay low wages and avoid American labor regulations. Gap Inc. starts out its hunt for overseas labor looking to exploit vulnerable workers. It cannot be shocked, then, when the vulnerable people it hires as workers are exploited.

Gap Inc. went looking to build relationships with subcontractors in India with the knowledge that many of the factories there exploit children and engage in monstrous abuses against their workers. Professor Sheotaj Singh of Dayanand Shilpa Vidyalaya, an organization that rehabilitates abused child workers in India, explains“It is obvious what the attraction is here for Western conglomerates. The key thing India has to offer the global economy is some of the world’s cheapest labour, and this is the saddest thing of all the horrors that arise from Delhi’s 15,000 inadequately regulated garment factories, some of which are among the worst sweatshops ever to taint the human conscience.”

Bhuwan Ribhu of Global March Against Child Labour agrees, stating of companies like Gap Kids“They know what outsourcing to India means. The cheapness and accessibility of these garments has created a life of servitude, a living nightmare, for hundreds of thousands of children who are forced to sew them.”

Some say that by giving contracts to sweatshops in India, Gap Inc. is helping the Indian economy, raising the standards of living for Indian workers. However, as the Hindustan Times pointed out just last week, when companies like Gap Inc. come in and hire child laborers under appalling conditions, they are actually harming the economy of India by stunting the development of a generation of children who are malnourished in the sweatshops, and can only be of any lasting using to the economy of India if they go to school, not to work. When 50 percent of children in India work seven days a week, they have no time to develop into people who will be able to contribute meaningfully to the economy of India as adults.

Gap, Inc. is making promises again, just as it has for the last three years. They’re promising again that they will not use abusive sweatshop garment labor in India, but will only get their super-low priced clothes from non-abusive sweatshop garment labor in India.

Think about it for a second, and you’ll realize how empty these promises really are. If Gap Inc.’s promise to outsource jobs to India were not honored the last time, why should we believe their new promises?

Gap Inc. knows what labor is really like in India. They know that if they continue to outsource labor to India, it’s likely that some, if not most, of their clothes will be made by abused children working for little or no money. Whatever ethical screening guidelines they set up, Gap Inc. will continue to run the substantial risk that the subcontractors they use in India will ignore the guidelines.

It’s a wink and a nod. Gap Inc. pretends to have ethical standards, and its subcontractors in India pretend to meet those standards. The ethical weight does not just rest on the shoulders of the corporate executives at Gap Inc. who decide to outsource labor instead of making its clothes here in the USA, however. Ethical responsibility also rests with you.

If, knowing what you now know about the abuse of child labor in Indian factories used by Gap Inc., you continue to buy clothes from Gap Kids, or any of the other stores owned by Gap Inc. (Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Piperlime), then you are ethically responsible for what happens to the children enslaved in Indian sweatshops.

Is saving a few dollars on your clothes really worth that to you?

As always, all the shirts we sell, including those we choose to sell at CafePress andSkreened, are made in the USA, not in outsourced sweatshops with child labor or other abused workers.

Third death in a year at Indian factory that supplies Gap – Guardian

· Clothing firm tells supplier to investigate conditions
· Worker verbally abused for leave request, union says

The Guardian, Monday 15 October 2007

The clothing giant Gap has ordered one of its overseas suppliers to overhaul its practices after a garment worker in Bangalore, India, collapsed and later died outside the same factory where a young pregnant worker lost her newborn baby six months ago.

It is the third death in the last year at or near the premises of Shalini Creations, a unit of the Texport Overseas group which makes clothes for the US firm.

Local unions told the Guardian that Ms Padmavathi, a 39-year-old factory worker, collapsed near the factory gate at midday on September 18, two-and-a-half hours after she had asked to be allowed leave to go to hospital. They claim she started vomiting at 9.30am and had asked her manager for leave. But, they say, she was not granted immediate leave and was instead verbally abused. When she was eventually granted leave and left the factory, she collapsed near the gate. Passers-by carried her back to the factory, where she was taken to a clinic and then to Victoria hospital, where she died at around 1pm. Results of a postmortem examination have not yet been made public.

Texport Overseas, which supplies a number of high street stores in Britain including Gap, claimed that Ms Padmavathi was seen by a factory nurse and that she was given immediate leave.

The allegations that the factory refused to grant Ms Padmavathi leave or to give her adequate medical attention follow those of Ratnamma, another worker for Shalini Creations whose story the Guardian reported last month. Ratnamma, 27, spoke of her anger at losing her baby, a boy, in March, when she was forced to give birth alone in the street at the factory gate after being refused immediate leave when she went into labour.

Shalini Creations said that Ratnamma, who was eight-and-a-half months’ pregnant, had failed to sign a pregnancy register that would have afforded her more lenient work. They told the Guardian they have provided her with a one-off payment on “humanitarian grounds” and she has since returned to work at the factory.

Unions in Bangalore have called for an investigation of three incidents at the factory since 2006 involving workers, and the immediate review of the factory’s treatment of sick workers. They are currently tracking down the family of a third worker, Mr Pushparaj, 35, who died in October last year, to find out more about the circumstances of his death.

Ashim Roy, the president of the Garment and Textile Workers Union, said: “This is the third incident that has happened in the factory in a year and the pattern shows that something seems to be wrong with the system when people fall ill. What process is followed if a worker is sick? Do they have a mechanism that ensures a worker is not forced to work, and that when he or she asks for leave, that they are given leave? We have found there are some supervisors who are more authoritarian than others and who are not responsive to the mostly female workers. Many of them suffer from anaemia and have other health problems.”

Mr Roy, who has met with the management of Texport Overseas, is also calling for a doctor and an ambulance to be available for the factory’s mainly young and female workforce.

Samir Goenka, who owns Texport Overseas, told the Guardian it was investigating the incidents. He said that Ms Padmavathi was seen by a nurse after she was sick and that she was found to have low blood pressure, but that she had not registered herself on the “chronic disease” register.

“Once a worker has registered we take special care of these workers,” he said. He said she was granted immediate leave.

He said that Mr Pushparaj was a heart patient who had died of a heart attack while being transported in the company vehicle from the factory to hospital.

A spokesman for Gap said it was “saddened to hear the news about Padmavathi”. In a statement, the company said: “We understand that factory management and representatives from the local trade union, with whom they have an agreement, are reviewing this matter and we believe that both parties are committed to working together to improve factory conditions in the future.

“We have highlighted to the factory the need to enhance their internal human resource systems. We have also asked the factory to submit to an additional investigation of its workplace practices by an external monitoring organisation, and factory management has agreed. Our expectation is that the results will further enable their managers to improve the current systems and processes in place at the factory.”

Gap Sweatshop Videos Cause Uproar – ABC Local

Thursday, November 01, 2007

By Noel Cisneros

Oct. 29, 2007 (KGO) (KGO) — One of San Francisco’s corporate giants is in the hot seat after acknowledging a factory in India was using young children to make its garments. The Gap has fired its subcontractor and none of the products made there will be sold. However, human rights groups say that’s not enough.

 

Exclusive video obtained by ABC News shows children in India, as young as 10, sewing garments for the Gap. The children said their families sold them to the factory. Some claim they were not paid.

Police in India raided another clothing sweatshop today and found more than a dozen young boys at work. That raid was just blocks from the New Delhi factory that San Francisco-based the Gap contracted for its kids line.

The Gap now says those clothes will never be sold in its stores.

The video of Indian children assembling GapKids clothes has gone worldwide. Shot by a German TV crew and distributed through a London media outlet carried in the U.S. by ABC.

Its distribution as global as a Gap t-shirt. The images of children as young as 10, working for no wages brings into stark relief the problems of the global supply chain where children are the weakest link.

“The problems exist continually but we only find them occasionally,” said UC Berkeley Labor and Environmental Law Professor Dara O’Rourke.

UC Berkeley professor Dara O’Rourke says the Gap’s problem is spread throughout third world manufacturing and a consequence of first world business models.

“They have outsourced so much of their supply chain, that they now can’t control very critical issues about core treatment of workers producing their goods. Core performance standards for quality of those goods the chemicals being used on those goods, the health impacts of those goods and we now are seeing the tip of this iceberg,” said O’Rourke.

The iceberg is globalization, which has produced cheaper goods for American consumers.

It’s natural for capital to flow to cheap labor, but in the apparel industry, the demand for cheap labor is magnified by pressure for quick turnaround, style and consumer demand for low prices.

In the case of the Gap, they have two thousand factories – policed by 90 Gap monitors. Many American corporations employ such monitors.

We know now that factories have gotten very good at tricking those monitors. In China where we do a lot of work, you can buy software e to produce three sets of books. One set for the tax man, another for the auditor and one set that actually says how many shirts you produced and what they really cost.

Finding untainted goods is tough even for the well; meaning there are companies like Global Exhange which will do a million dollars in sales this year by dealing directly with its third world suppliers.

“There’s a lot of background checking going on, and a lot of ties the cooperative applies directly to us,” said Shel Mae from Global Exchange.

Will these images be enough to force businesses and consumers to change? Hard to say. But each passing month is producing a new news story about poisonous dog food, lead painted toys, and now child labor – leading consumers to ask – what is the cost of low prices?

 

 

Mind the Gap: Still Suffering from Lack of Brand Identity

August 21, 2009  |  about: GPS

Gap Inc. (GPS) put out two press releases yesterday, the first announcing their fiscal 2nd quarter earnings, and the second highlighting promotional events to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. The company is hoping that investors cheer the fact they were able to post earnings roughly in line with last year. If not, there will still be a celebration, as the Gap will be outfitting floor traders on the NY Stock Exchange with Gap jeans today, and hosting a nationwide simultaneous acoustic concert in its more than 700 stores tonight.

Gap reported a profit of $228 Million, or $0.33 diluted EPS, in the fiscal 2nd quarter. That was roughly in line with last year’s profit of $229 Million ($0.32 EPS), and slightly above analyst estimates for 32 cents per share. Net Sales in the quarter decreased by 7.3% to $3.25 Billion, while same-store sales declined 8% on top of a 10% drop a year ago. Comparable sales declined across all segments, with Gap NA -10% vs -6% last year, Banana Republic NA -15% vs -6%, Old Navy NA -4% vs -16%, and International -5% vs -6%. E-commerce continues to be the one bright spot for the company, as online sales grew 17% to $224 Million in the quarter.

While the company will be celebrating their 40th year in business, the results leave less of a reason to cheer. This comp decline extends their streak to 20 consecutive quarters of negative same-store sales. Since the start of the decade, they have now reported negative same-store sales in 30 of 38 quarters:

This is the company’s take on their results:

“We’re proud to deliver second quarter earnings per share above last year, especially during a challenging environment,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and chief executive officer of Gap Inc. “Building upon two years of work improving our economic model, we’re now putting further emphasis on changing the trajectory of our top line performance. Our focus is to find the right balance between maintaining our cost discipline and making appropriate, targeted investments to gain back market share.”

Each quarter they have pointed to economic conditions and talked about all the changes they have made to improve performance going forward. While the past 18 months have certainly presented a challenge to most all apparel retailers, Gap has been struggling for the greater part of 10 years.

They have talked about remodeling and closing under-performing stores, and doing a better job of connecting with consumers. However, their peers have proven to be much more adept at responding to the constantly-evolving consumer tastes. While cost-cutting and inventory management measures have steadied bottom-line results this year, we have yet to see any of their initiatives translate into even marginal improvement of top-line results:

The company does have some things going for it, though: they have no debt and over $2 Billion in cash, cash flow and merchandise margins have been improving, and each quarter they are up against easier comps. Some analysts believe they finally have the right fashions and values for the back-to-school and fall seasons.

However, at this point we’ll believe it when we see it. Gap used to be an extremely successful retailer, with its strengths being basic apparel and value. Somewhere along the line it lost its way, no longer being able to differentiate itself from rivals or clearly define its brand identity. With the spending environment expected to remain weak through the end of the year, we don’t see Gap returning to its glory days anytime soon.

Gap names drugstore exec as its new CEO- articles.latimes

July 27, 2007|Kimi Yoshino and Leslie Earnest | Times Staff Writers

Apparel retailer Gap Inc., which has suffered sinking sales and a shake-up of its top management, named a Canadian drugstore executive as its new chief executive Thursday.

Glenn Murphy, 45, has been CEO of Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada’s largest drugstore chain, since 2001. Although he has 20 years of retail experience in food, books, and health and beauty, he has never before worked for an apparel company.

Gap, the San Francisco-based operator of more than 3,100 Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores, is struggling to wrench itself from an extended sales slump.

It has been searching for a CEO since January, when it ousted Paul Pressler, former head of Walt Disney Co.’s theme parks and resort division, who was criticized for having limited retail experience and for not having a knack for apparel merchandising.

Murphy’s appointment was greeted with skepticism by Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group, a market research firm.

“It’s deja vu all over again,” he said. “Where’s the beef? Where’s the merchant? I need to see a merchant in this. Merchandise is such a critical component of the equation…. They’re running out of chances here.”

After Pressler was ousted, Gap vowed to find a replacement with a strong background in retailing and “merchandising experience, ideally in apparel.”

But it has become increasingly difficult to find strong merchants, retail experts say. And it’s hardest for large businesses that need leaders with a complex set of skills to efficiently run a business, spark creativity and unify workers.

The company saw its fiscal first-quarter profit drop 26% from a year earlier. Net income for the quarter, which ended in May, was $178 million, or 22 cents a share, compared with $242 million or 28 cents, in 2006.

There are more than 1,000 outlets in the Shoppers Drug Mart chain, generating sales of $7.8 billion last year.

Gap officials said they selected Murphy after a “rigorous” search process.

“The entire board unanimously agreed that we’d found the right leader for our company,” said independent Gap director Adrian Bellamy, chairman of the Body Shop International.

Bellamy noted Murphy’s “proven retail skills” that have yielded positive financial results. While at the helm of Shoppers Drug Mart, revenue increased for 22 consecutive quarters and its earnings per share doubled.

Gap, on the other hand, has seen profit slip six quarters in a row and store sales have either dropped or held steady nearly every month for the last three years.

Murphy was not available for an interview, but said in a statement: “Alongside some of the most talented people in the apparel industry, we’ll work to reestablish each brand’s leadership position and set the company along a path of sustained earnings performance.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/27/business/fi-gap27

Gap focuses on international, online growth- businessweek

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS October 14, 2010, 8:51AM ET

Gap focuses on international, online growth

NEW YORK

Gap Inc. is opening stores in China and Italy as it expands internationally and online, the clothing seller said Thursday.

The company said it expects international and online sales to account for 25 percent of its revenue by fiscal 2013. In 2009, those areas made up 12 percent of revenue.

“We’re making the investments necessary to shift the balance of revenue over time to come increasingly from our online and international businesses,” said CEO Glenn Murphy.

Gap, which operates namesake stores as well as Old Navy and Banana Republic, made the announcement ahead of an investor meeting. The company has been in the headlines recently because it updated its logo and then rescinded the change after criticism.

The stores in China and Italy will open by the end of the year.

Gap, based in San Francisco, also said it could open Old Navy stores outside North America, it is expanding its Piperlime online store and its Athleta athletic apparel brand. It also plans to sell clothes online in Japan beginning in 2011.

Finally, Gap said it plans to double the number of its franchise stores to 400 from 200 by 2015.

Gap, like many retailers, was hurt by the recession as consumers cut back, but sales have improved since it revamped its lower-priced Old Navy Stores. In the second quarter, Gap’s net income rose 3 percent increase as rising sales at Old Navy and its more expensive Banana Republic stores offset declines at namesake stores, which target middle-income shoppers.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9IRFPDO2.htm

GAP: Decline of a denim dynasty- CNN Money

The inside story of how the Fisher family turned Gap into one of America’s top retailers–then pulled the strings as it unraveled.

By Jennifer Reingold, Fortune senior writer
April 17 2007: 1:36 PM EDT
(Fortune Magazine) — On a cold September day in 1941, Donald Fisher, the founder of Gap Inc., was fishing on a Northern California beach. Suddenly, 12-year-old Don hooked a bass so big his brother Bob thought it was a shark. “Let it go!” his brother screamed. “No way,” Fisher later wrote. “I didn’t care if I’d hooked a submarine, losing was not an option.” He reeled in the “shark,” motivated not by landing a prize fish but by the thought of letting it slip from his grasp. “The fear of losing pushes relentlessly from behind,” he wrote.

More than 65 years have passed since that day on the beach, and nearly four decades since Don Fisher and his wife, Doris, opened their first Gap store, a San Francisco shop selling Levi’s and records that grew into an iconic American brand. Yet if that fear of losing is still what drives Don Fisher, he must be feeling pretty motivated right now. At 78, an age when he probably expected to be enjoying a few victory laps, Fisher and his family are now struggling to reel in yet another thrashing beast. This time, it is Gap itself.

falling_into_gap_book.03.jpg
Fisher and his co-author, Art Twain, spent six years working on the book, then decided–under family pressure–not to publish it, instead sending out copies only to close associates.
gap_chart.gif
From its high point, when Gap’s classic American style was so ubiquitous that it was worn to the 1998 Oscars and mocked on Saturday Night Live, the company has sunk into a slump that threatens to derail the Fishers’ proud legacy. The past five years have featured long stretches of falling same-store sales, a stagnant stock price (down 14% in the past two years alone), and a strong feeling among much of the analyst and private-equity community that Gap (Charts) has too many stores and its three main brands–Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy–may be better off broken up. “Gap has its back to the wall,” says Bob Buchanan, retail industry group leader at A.G. Edwards. In the 2007 Brand Keys customer loyalty engagement index, Gap ranked 355th of 362 brands surveyed, while rivals H&M and J. Crew (Charts) ranked 16th and 30th, respectively.

It is all damning evidence that the $15.9 billion company has lost its way. For a long time now, though, the scribes penning the retailer’s saga have spilled most of their ink on the messy departures of two high-profile CEOs: polar opposites Millard (Mickey) Drexler and Paul Pressler.

Yet the fact is that behind every major decision the company has made, the good ones and yes, the bad ones, is the famously private Don Fisher and his family, who hold 34% of Gap’s stock (worth over $5 billion) and three of 12 board seats. Says Drexler, who now runs rival J. Crew: “Don Fisher had two claims to fame: One was hiring me, and the other was firing me. I find it quite ironic.” That’s not the only irony: Don–who after an early failed venture with his own father vowed “never to partner with family members again”–was part of the board’s January decision to name Bob Fisher, Gap’s chairman and Don’s firstborn son, interim CEO.

How did the Gap get here? To understand that, you have to understand the Fishers. Their story shows how a family banded together to build one of America’s most successful retailers–and lays bare what can go wrong when a handful of well-intentioned billionaires run a huge public company like a family fiefdom.

Family ties

“The Fisher family has a thing for tradition, almost to the extreme,” writes Don Fisher in his 724-page autobiography, “Falling Into the Gap: The Story of Donald Fisher and the Apparel Icon He Created.” Fisher and his co-author, Art Twain, spent six years working on the book, then decided–under family pressure–not to publish it, instead sending out copies only to close associates. Through the book and interviews with 49 people–including 19 former and current executives–Fortune was able to get a rare glimpse into the family’s world. (The Fishers refused to be interviewed but responded to factual questions through a spokesperson.)

It’s a tight-knit clan. Don and Doris, who have been married for almost 54 years, and their three sons, Bob, Bill, and John, all own homes within blocks of one another, and everyone skies together at Sugar Bowl, the Tahoe resort the family has a stake in. All three sons attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Princeton, and Stanford Business School; all are married to their first wives and have several children; all have worked for the family in some regard. “If you ask me what their greatest achievement is,” says James Steyer, CEO of a nonprofit called Common Sense Media and a family friend, “it’s not Gap, it’s their boys and grandchildren. It’s not even a close call.”

Although the Fishers are relatively new money, they are also old-time San Franciscans in a culture that abhors showiness. Their social circle includes everyone from Dianne Feinstein to Charles Schwab to George H.W. Bush, Fisher’s onetime campmate at Bohemian Grove, the annual all-male gathering of the power elite.

Don and Doris’s home, while stately and situated in Presidio Heights, with a view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, boasts no Corinthian pillars or sweeping staircases. Bob Fisher’s home–in the same neighborhood–looks a lot like his dad’s. That’s no coincidence: Don not only talked Bob into buying it but also helped design the floor plans. (He scouted out locations for his other sons’ homes as well.) Board member Doris, now 75, still shows up at Gap headquarters behind the wheel of a decades-old wood-paneled station wagon. And Don, the plainspoken patriarch, never misses a chance to save a buck: Anne Gust Brown, Gap’s former general counsel, remembers seeing the Fishers at a gas station, a mattress tied to the top of the car because Don was outraged by the $25 delivery charge. “They looked like the Beverly Hillbillies,” she laughs.

The comparison to the Clampetts, however, ends with the Fishers’ taste in art. Between Warhols, Gerhard Richters, and other important works, the Fishers have “one of the great collections of contemporary art in the world,” says Neal Benezra, director of San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. SFMOMA houses the Fisher Family Galleries on the museum’s fifth floor, and, Fortune has learned, the Fishers are in talks about building a museum in San Francisco’s Presidio.

Gap’s Embarcadero headquarters, overlooking San Francisco Bay, is a tribute to the family’s love of art–and of real estate. The $136 million Robert Stern-designed limestone building was completed in 2001 and is dotted with valuable Lichtensteins, a monumental Richard Serra sculpture, and other works from the Fishers’ private collection. (Asked the name of one metal sculpture, a receptionist says, giggling, “I call it ‘Pieces of My Car.'”) The Fishers pay Gap $892,000 a year in “rent” to show their art, according to the proxy.

Although the building’s opulence gives it the feel of a company on the rise, the opposite is true today: Gap has become a mass-appeal retail company that is more about discounts than distinction, with stores that A.G. Edwards’s Buchanan characterizes as drowning in a “sea of markdowns.”

It is exactly the vision that Don Fisher sought to avoid back in 1983, when his 550-store chain fell victim to price wars and poor-quality merchandise. “I wanted a clean, classy full-price business,” writes Fisher, “not the schlocky off-price operation we had become.” It is a fate that, for all Fisher’s success, has come back to haunt him time and again.

Pants and properties

Don Fisher was never much of a clotheshorse–and in fact didn’t get into retail till just shy of his 41st birthday. He was a businessman who actually did fall into the Gap. The oldest of three brothers raised in a comfortable San Francisco family, Fisher was a great swimmer and a party boy whose nickname at the University of California at Berkeley was the “Horny Fish.”

He was also a jokester who ended up in jail for such antics as driving his car through a casino’s open doors and throwing a can of beer at a Mexican matador. After college, the prematurely balding Fisher did what was expected of him. He married Doris, a childhood friend, and went to work in the cabinet business his mother, Aileen, had inherited and his father, Sydney, was running. “I didn’t have much choice,” writes Don. “I had no money, and I didn’t want to disappoint him.”

“Symphony Syd,” as Don’s friends called him for his silky demeanor, wasn’t much of a businessman; he had a knack for sales but always bid low to win the job. Eventually, when he was forced to sell the business to pay off creditors, Don persuaded him to convert the factory into an office building. Next the two, along with Don’s brother Bob, began building luxury homes together. But their differing approaches drove Fisher crazy. “I couldn’t stand working for my father any longer,” he writes. “I was on the brink of seeing him as my enemy and had to be my own man.”

 

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/04/30/8405468/index.htm