Either the winter that is coming will knock the socks right out of the pre-quadruple seasonally adjusted GDP and the Gap knows all about this, or the much-hyped economic recovery, of which the US is supposedly in the 6th year now, has been nothing but a myth and a lie.
Moments ago, one of the biggest clothing retailers in the US confirmed the worst nightmares about the state of US consumer spending, when it reported that it would shut down over 25% of all of its specialty stores in the US, or about 175 (of which 140 will be shut in the current year), leaving the firm just 500 specialty locations and 300 outlet stores. And, in addition to the thousands of job terminations these closures would entail, the company will further fire another 250 in its headquarters.
Why? As the company admits: "To Increase Productivity and Profitability", to "deliver more consistent and compelling product collections and engage customers across all channels", because “Our customers and employees want Gap to win."
Well, maybe not the employees, and certainly not those that are not only about to get a modest severance package, but will make the BLS's role of painting the mass terminations "recovery" that much harder.
Oh well, that's what double, triple, quadruple and so on seasonal adjustments are for.
From the press release:
Gap Inc. Announces Strategic Initiatives to Increase Productivity and Profitability of Namesake Brand
Gap today announced a series of strategic actions to position Gap brand for improved business performance and build for the future. Following a thorough evaluation of its business and operations, Gap plans to right-size its specialty store fleet and streamline its headquarter workforce, primarily in North America, as part of the comprehensive effort to deliver more consistent and compelling product collections and engage customers across all channels.
“Returning Gap brand to growth has been the top priority since my appointment four months ago – and Jeff and his team bring a sense of urgency to this work,” said Art Peck, Gap Inc. chief executive officer. “Customers are rapidly changing how they shop today, and these moves will help get Gap back to where we know it deserves to be in the eyes of consumers.”
In order to drive productivity improvements and showcase the brand in the most successful locations, Gap will close about 175 specialty stores in North America over the next few years, with about 140 closures occurring this fiscal year. These changes will not impact Gap Outlet and Gap Factory Stores. In parallel with these moves, the brand will close a limited number of European stores during this period.
Following the fleet optimization effort, the brand will continue to serve North American customers through about 800 Gap stores – comprised of 500 Gap specialty locations and 300 Gap outlet stores – as well as its dynamic online channels, better reflecting the way today’s customers shop across specialty, outlet and online. The brand will continue to have a robust global presence in more than 50 countries and with about 1,600 company-operated and franchise locations globally.
“Our customers and employees want Gap to win,” said Jeff Kirwan, global president for Gap. “We’re focused on offering consistent, on-brand product collections and enhancing the customer experience across all of our channels, including a smaller, more vibrant fleet of stores."
Since Kirwan was appointed to lead Gap in December 2014, he’s rebuilt the leadership team and implemented an aggressive agenda designed to strengthen the brand and successfully compete on the global stage. The team is driving towards a clear, on-brand product aesthetic framework focused on optimistic and elevated American style, while also rebuilding the brand’s product operating model to increase speed, predictability and responsiveness, and enable greater competitiveness.
To speed decision making and responsiveness, Kirwan also announced decisions meant to align Gap’s organization in support of its new product operating model. This will result in the reduction of the brand’s headquarter workforce, primarily in North America, by approximately 250 roles during fiscal year 2015.
Kirwan added, “These decisions are very difficult, knowing they will affect a number of our valued employees, but we are confident they are necessary to help create a winning future for our employees, our customers and our shareholders.”
The company estimates an annualized sales loss of approximately $300 million associated with the store closures. Additionally, the company estimates one-time costs primarily associated with these actions to be in the range of approximately $140 million to $160 million, of which about $55 million to $75 million is non-cash. These costs are expected to be recognized primarily in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015 and include lease buyouts, asset impairments primarily related to the Gap fleet, inventory and fabric write-offs, and employee related costs associated with organizational changes.
The company estimates annualized savings from these actions to be approximately $25 million, beginning in 2016.
Excluding the estimated pre-tax costs of $140 million to $160 million referenced above, or approximately $0.21 to $0.24 per diluted share, the company is reaffirming its guidance for fiscal year 2015 to be in the range of $2.75 to $2.80. This guidance is provided to enhance visibility into the company’s expectations regarding its ongoing business excluding the Gap brand optimization effort.