Paul Pressler is a partner at the New York- and London-based private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. He was CEO of Gap, Inc. and chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and a director of Avon Products Inc.
A New York native, Pressler received a bachelor's degree in business economics from the State University of New York at Oneonta. Paul was then hired as an urban planner in New York City. After six months in that job, he wanted to move on. Through a search firm, he selected a job at Remco Toys. In 1982, he was hired as vice president of design and marketing for Kenner-Parker Toys. Pressler pushed the Care Bears such that he was a The Care Bears Movie executive producer. The unit Pressler was in was discontinued in 1987 as it was duplicate of the major Kenner and Parker Bros. divisions' units.
With job offers from Mattel and Disney Consumer Products, Pressler was encouraged by Carole MacGillvray Rappeport to take the Disney job. He thus took the product licensing post there in 1987. He made his mark by creating a deal with Mattel for preschool Disney toys which competed with Playskool and Fisher Price. With this deal, consumer products president Barton "Bo" K. Boyd selected Pressler as the next Disney Store head. While heading up Disney Store, he brought together builders, designers, engineers and merchandisers to design the next prototype Disney Store that opened in third quarter 1994. He used the "land" concept from the parks for the prototype to "make it more entertaining by utilizing more storytelling".
In late 1994, Pressler was tapped to become Disneyland's head executive. At Disneyland, Pressler was known for cost-cutting measures such as reducing customer service training, having workers wash their own uniforms and closing rides and shows early. He attempted to discontinue a disabled discount but was forced to back off after backlash. With the cost cutting, Disneyland was profitable while attendance declined.
Pressler was promoted to president of Walt Disney Attractions in December 1998 under Chair Judson Green. In 2000, he was promoted to be chairman Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (formerly Disney Attractions). With the December 31, 2000 retirement of Disney vice chairman Sandy Litvack, Anaheim Sports began reporting to him. Pressler oversaw a major expansion, including the opening of the new California Adventure theme park, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, the remodeling of an existing hotel, a new retail, dining and entertainment complex called Downtown Disney; and a new multi-story parking area. The new park and hotels opened in early 2001, and the entire complex was named the Disneyland Resort.
While turning down AOL Time Warner Inc., Pressler accepted the chief executive position at the Gap Inc. in September 2002 after initially turning them down. Gap was struggling with an over expansion of store locations. Pressler brought in several other Disney executives. In summer of 2004, he had Gap launch a new chain, Forth & Towne. He stepped down on January 22, 2007.