Mary Beth Laughton

Mary Beth Laughton


Laughton to Lead Athleta

It was announced Sept. 24 that Mary Beth Laughton was named president and chief executive officer of the Athleta division of Gap Inc. Until recently, Laughton oversaw omni-channel operations for the beauty retailer Sephora, said Art Peck, Gap Inc.’s president and chief executive officer.

“Mary Beth brings a strong background in digital operations, a keen understanding of customers and an ability to deliver innovative experiences,” Peck said in a statement. “She is the right leader for Athleta, with a proven track record in driving consistent results in multiple growth markets, including performance apparel and beauty.”

Laughton also served in a number of executive roles at Nike Inc., including a position as Nike’s category merchandising director for the brand’s bricks-and-mortar stores and e-commerce. She received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University and started her career as a business analyst for McKinsey & Co., where she focused on retail and digital commerce.

Laughton might be presiding over an expansion of Athleta. Earlier this month, Gap announced that it plans to expand its Athleta and Janie and Jack divisions overseas through franchising new stores. Gap acquired Janie and Jack, a children’s clothing retailer, in March for $35 million from the Gymboree Group Inc.

Gap acquired Athleta in 2008 for $150 million in cash. Founded in the wine country town of Petaluma, Calif., Athleta started business in 1998 and grew into a women’s lifestyle brand for yoga, running, skiing, snowboarding and surfing. Clothing categories sold at Athleta include underwear, swimwear, dresses, as well as athletic clothing made for specific activities such as hiking, running and yoga. The brand also makes clothing for girls.

In 2011, Athleta opened its first physical locations with stores in San Francisco and Manhattan. It currently runs 171 stores. In 2018, Athleta became a B Corporation, which is a class of corporation that seeks to be profitable but also meets the standards of environmental and labor certification groups such as the Fair Trade USA.

According to a company statement, 70 percent of the brand’s goods are made with sustainable fibers. By 2020, it hopes to use sustainable fibers to manufacture 80 percent of its products.