Gap will close all of its stores in Ireland and the United Kingdom by September 31st and move fully online as it adjusts to the changes in customer shopping habits after the pandemic.
American apparel retailer Banana Republic and Old Navy-owned Old Navy announced that company-operated stores will be affected by the closings in a Thursday statement. It also stated that plans were underway to sell outlets in France or Italy.
According to the company, the retreat is the result of a strategic review of the European business, which began last year with the goal of “finding new, more cost-effective” ways to serve customers in the region.
Gap ( ) announced in October a three-year plan to close nearly a third of its North American retail footprint. The company, like its rivals, has had to adapt to the rapid shift to e-commerce that was accelerated by the coronavirus epidemic, which has impacted brick-and-mortar stores and led to the bankruptcy of well-known brands such as Brooks Brothers.
Gap blamed “market dynamic” for closing stores in Ireland and the United Kingdom on Thursday. It said that the closures will be done in a “phased fashion” until September. It declined to say how many jobs would be lost.
The company stated that it is moving thoughtfully through the consultation process together with its European team. It also said that they would provide transition assistance and support for their colleagues as we try to close down stores.
It stated that it was in talks with a potential partner in Italy and negotiating to acquire Gap stores in France from Hermione People and Brands (retail branch of property developer FIB).
The gap was established in London in 1987. It is the first American expansion. It is present in Ireland since 2006.
Susannah Streeter, Hargreaves Lansdown senior investment and markets analyst, stated that Gap was decades ahead of the competition in providing the athleisure styles that have been so popular during the pandemic.
However, the brand has had difficulty competing with a growing number o rivals in “casual space”, especially given the “languishing footfall” in shopping centers and main streets where many of its shops are located, she said in a Thursday research note.
The brand’s physical departure will be a major blow to Britain’s main streets. They are already struggling from the closing of Debenhams which was the country’s largest department store chain.