Gap to close 81 stores in UK and Ireland


Gap storefront

US fashion giant Gap has confirmed plans to close all of its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland and go online only.

The company said it would close all of its stores “gradually” between late August and late September.

This includes 19 stores that were already scheduled to close in July as their leases expired.

The company has not disclosed the number of employees the closures will affect, but will begin a consultation process with staff shortly.

The company said it was “not leaving the UK market” and would continue to offer an online store when all stores were closed.

A spokesperson for Gap said the move followed a strategic review of its European business.

Suddenly, Gap is also seeking to unload its stores in France and Italy.

Analysis box by Emma Simpson, business correspondent

Analysis box by Emma Simpson, business correspondent

Gap was a big hit when it opened in the UK in 1987, famous for its hoodies and sweatshirts. But in recent years, it has struggled to stay relevant, resorting to prolific discounts to attract buyers. This has left Gap in a weak position to withstand the turbulence of a global pandemic.

It launched a strategic review of all of its European operations last fall, warning that it was considering closing all its stores in the UK. Just a few weeks ago, 19 store closings were announced – now the rest will close as well.

Gap blamed what he described as market dynamics – in other words, the huge shift towards internet shopping. It takes place only online, as does the Arcadia group of Debenhams and Sir Philip Green. It’s yet another famous name that offers to retreat from our main streets, adding to the challenge of knowing what to do with empty stores.

The company said it was in negotiations with another company to take over all of its French stores.

In Italy, Gap said it was in discussions with a partner for the potential acquisition of stores there.

“We believe in the power of the Gap global brand. We are executing the Gap Power Plan and partnering to amplify our global reach,” said the spokesperson.

“We are not leaving the UK market. We will continue to operate and operate our Gap e-commerce business in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

A source close to the company said it has seen rapid adoption of internet shopping for its clothing in the UK since lockdowns imposed by the pandemic.

The move comes as the latest blow to the already reeling British High Streets the collapse of the Debenhams and Arcadia retail empires during the pandemic.

The Debenhams brand continues online after being bought by retailer Boohoo for £ 55million in January – and now Gap has added physical clothing chains to the ranks that have moved to cyberspace.

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