UPDATE 1-Gap names H&M exec as Old Navy head

Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:30pm EDT

* Appoints Stefan Larsson for the post

* Larsson to take up role in October

April 30 (Reuters) - Gap Inc said Hennes & Mauritz executive Stefan Larsson will take charge of its Old Navy brand, as the company seeks to turn around the struggling chain.

Larsson, who joins Old Navy in October, most recently headed global sales at the Swedish retailer, which along with Inditex's Zara displaced Gap's position as the world's largest apparel retailer.

In a bid to catch up to the "fast fashion" European retailers, U.S. companies like Gap, American Eagle Outfitters and Macy's Inc have been hurt by lower margins as consumers resist high priced clothes.

In January, Tom Wyatt, former head of Old Navy, stepped down to pursue a career outside of clothing retail. This marks a second such departure in a year by the head of a major Gap brand.

Old Navy, which was launched in 1994, will continue to be led by Nancy Green, EVP & Chief Creative Officer, and Tom Sands, EVP of Stores and Operations, until Larsson joins the company.

"We believe there is significant overlap between the H&M and Old Navy customer base, and Larsson's knowledge of the inner workings of a successful value retailer is just what this brand needs to turn itself around," Jefferies & Co analyst Randal Konik said in a note to clients.

The chain has more than 1,000 stores and accounts for about 39 percent of Gap sales.

Gap shares closed at $28.50 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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