Gap to reduce lead times

Gap is to start work on reducing lead times once changes being made to the design process are complete.

Gap US president and chief executive Gary Muto said the Gap chain has concentrated on facilitating closer communication between merchandisers, seen by management to be closer to the customer and stores, and designers.

He told investors at last week's Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference that, once Gap was happy with the changes to the design process, it would turn its attention to the 'product pipeline'.

He said: 'Right now we are getting the (design) process right. We will master that first before trying to reduce the product life cycle.' Muto said the cycle of production for stock was about nine months.

According to a Goldman Sachs note, closer cooperation between designers and merchandisers would 'help designers create product consistent with the requirements to properly merchandise the stores.'

'Merchandisers have the view of the consumer. Bringing design and merchandising closer together helps shorten lead times, avoid mistakes and improve communication,' the note stated.

Gap has had a revival in fortunes during 2003 and reported comparable sales up 9 per cent at Gap US for the second quarter.