Gap names Mattel executive as next CEO

Lead of the global reinvigoration of Mattel’s iconic Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price brands, Richard Dickson joined Gap’s board of directors last year.
Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader
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  • Gap Inc. chose top Mattel executive Richard Dickson as the retailer’s president and CEO, effective August 22.
  • Dickson is credited with reinvigorating Mattel’s iconic brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price.
  • Dickson was selected as Gap’s top executive after a yearlong search with Gap’s chairman Bob Martin serving as interim CEO.
Rickard Dixon
Richard Dickson

Gap Inc.’s board of directors has appointed Richard Dickson as the retailer’s president and CEO, effective August 22. Dickson will join Gap Inc., with a portfolio that includes Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta, from his most recent role as Mattel’s president and CEO, where he was a lead architect in a global corporate transformation that has reinvigorated Mattel’s iconic brands, including Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price, as well as restored the company to growth and reaffirmed Mattel as an industry thought leader. Richard was appointed to Gap’s board of directors in November 2022.

Dickson was selected as Gap’s top executive after a yearlong search that began last year when former CEO Sonia Syngal left the retailer. Gap’s chairman Bob Martin has been serving as interim CEO. 

“On behalf of the Gap Inc. Board and management team, I want to thank Bobby Martin for serving as Interim CEO during this important time, and the teams who have moved quickly to simplify the company’s operating model, increase the speed and quality of decision making, and restore its creative muscle — work that will pay back for years to come,” said Mayo Shattuck III lead independent director, in a press release.

Martin will remain chair of the board and ensure a smooth transition.

“Gap Inc. has a rich heritage, with brands that have great meaning in people’s lives,” Martin said. “Amidst a deliberate and thoughtful search process, it became clear that Richard is destined for this role at this moment. His experience as a proven transformational brand builder and belief in the power of inclusivity, make him a perfect fit for Gap Inc. I'm incredibly proud of the organization’s commitment to the success of this company, as they are embracing operational rigor, regaining product and customer obsession, with an eye on modernizing the way we work, all of which becomes a strong foundation for what’s ahead.”

Mattel’s revival to Gap

Dickson, who first joined Mattel in 2000, led Mattel’s portfolio of global brands, overseeing innovation strategy, design and development, brand marketing and franchise management. According to CNBC, coinciding with the debut of the Barbie movie, Mattel entered into licensing agreements to sell a range of Barbie-themed merchandise with more than 100 brands, including Gap.

Mattel released a new collection from across its portfolio of brands inspired by the Barbie movie.

Under his leadership, the toy-maker developed and launched the Mattel Playbook, a brand-building approach that has been instrumental in growing Mattel’s power brands and accelerating Mattel’s transformation.

Prior to Mattel, Dickson was president and CEO of Branded Businesses for The Jones Group, where he led global design and development, including marketing and merchandising, wholesale, retail and e-commerce, brought new relevance to dated fashion labels, and acquired and developed new brands. Dickson also co-founded, the first online retailer dedicated to high-end cosmetics, and served as an executive at Bloomingdale’s.

Dickson will have his work cut out for him at Gap. As Retail Leader previously reported, since last year, Gap has been cutting costs and laying off workers in response to declining sales and profits. For the first quarter of 2023, sales were down 6% for the year ended April 29 to $3.18 billion.

A number of leadership changes have also occurred across the portfolio of brands. On July 24, Chris Blakeslee was named president and CEO of Athleta, joining the company on Aug. 7. Horacio “Haio” Barbeito was appointed president and CEO of Old Navy, effective Aug. 1, 2022.

"Gap Inc. is a portfolio of iconic brands, known for having defined American style with bold thinking and making quality fashion accessible to millions,” Dickson said. “But it's the work ahead that excites me most — the chance to work hand-in-hand with the teams to evolve Gap Inc. for a new era. Under Bobby's leadership, the team has begun to truly reset the company for long-term success, establishing a new foundation that I'm eager to build on."