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Athleta Taps Alo Yoga President as New CEO

Athleta Taps Alo Yoga President as New CEO

Chris Blakeslee will be counted on to help the women’s activewear company boost its sagging sales

Gap Inc. has appointed Chris Blakeslee, formerly of Alo Yoga, as Athleta’s new president and CEO.

Athleta, founded in 1998 to serve athletic women, was acquired by Gap Inc. in 2008. The activewear brand now operates over 200 stores in the U.S. and Canada. 

Blakeslee will join the activewear brand on August 7, overseeing strategic growth and product innovation. He will also continue Athleta’s mission, “Power of She,” which launched in 2016, providing grants and advocacy work for women and girls. 

Credit: Gap/Athleta

Athleta’s new president and CEO has held various roles across marketing, sales, product portfolio management, and operations, coming to Athleta after serving as president of Alo Yoga and Bella+Canvas since 2017.

Under Blakeslee, Alo Yoga grew to over $1 billion in sales in 2022, nearly doubling its year-over-year growth.

Athleta’s parent company Gap Inc. also named its own new CEO, Richard Dickson, of Mattel. Dickson replaces Sonia Syngal, who led Gap for two years. The executive changes have reflected positively on shares of Gap, which are up nearly 6% in the past five days. 

While activewear may have seen a boom during the at-home fitness craze, according to a report by McKinsey, athletic footwear and activewear saw revenue declines of 4 to 6% in the first nine months of 2022, resulting from weakened consumer demand.

In its Q1 2023 financials, Athleta reported net sales of $321 million, down 11% when compared to last year, with sales in the quarter impacted by “continued product acceptance challenges.”

Still, Gap is rallying behind the new leader of Athleta to change course.

“A true brand champion, Chris is known for driving results in high-growth businesses through the blend of creativity and operational rigor,” said Bob Martin, executive chairman and interim CEO of Gap Inc. “Chris is a strong, decisive leader and proven business driver across multiple industries, including active apparel and wellness – one of the fastest and most aspirational retail sectors – making him well suited to guide Athleta into long-term, sustainable growth rooted in delivering high-quality performance product and a rich omni shopping experience.”

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Blakeslee, who holds an MBA from John Hopkins University, commented that he’s long admired the Athleta brand.

“I see incredible runway for the brand to capitalize on its unique, purpose-led positioning and performance product innovation, leveraging its assets across marketing, stores, product and community to deliver consistent growth,” Blakeslee said. “There is something really captivating about the ‘Power of She’ when it comes to engaging women and girls in all aspects of life, and I can’t wait to jump in with the teams to harness this in a way that will further serve customers’ wants and needs.”

Athleta appointed Julia Leach as chief creative officer in May.

This past spring, Athleta announced a partnership with elite athletes to empower women and girls and made a $175,000 donation to the Women’s Sports Foundation to advocate for women’s equality in sports and life. 

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