Gap Gets Fit

San Francisco Gap Inc. announced Monday that it will add a fifth brand to its roster of apparel offerings by acquiring Athleta, a women’s sport and active-apparel company. Gap will pay approximately $150 million cash to purchase the Petaluma, Calif.-based lifestyle-apparel company.

The Athleta brand, which was introduced 10 years ago, will be sold through Gap Inc.’s online platform, Universality, which currently hosts the retailer’s flagship brands, Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, as well as Piperlime, the footwear and handbag e-commerce site that Gap Inc. launched on November 1, 2006.

Following the acquisition, Athleta will become the fifth “store” on the Gap Inc. platform. A key differentiator of Universality is that it allows shoppers to make purchases from all of the Gap Inc. brands and the products are placed into one online shopping cart, with a single shipping fee.

In Gap Inc.’s prepared statement, chairman and chief executive Glenn Murphy noted, “This strategic acquisition complements our brands perfectly and allows us to leverage our new online platform to expand into this significant retail sector.”

Joe Teno, current CEO of Athleta, will serve as president of the Athleta division at Gap Inc., reporting to Toby Lenk, president of the Gap Inc. Direct division.