Making progress with the ongoing operational overhaul of its eponymous brand, Gap Inc. announced on Wednesday that it will be stepping down all company owned Gap and Gap Outlet stores in the UK and Ireland. The brand has been present in the United Kingdom since 1987 and in Ireland since 2006.
The stores will close “gradually” from late August through September, according to a press release from the company. Gap will continue to operate its e-commerce business in both countries.
Gap also said it was negotiating with French clothing retailer Hermione People and Brands to take over its stores in France. In March, Italian fast-fashion retailer OVS announced it would sell Gap clothing online and in select stores.
Gap Inc. strives to build on its longtime namesake, even if it falters, while taking steps to scale its operations. The reduction abroad is a “fruit at hand”, MKM Partners chief executive Roxanne Meyer said when executives said in October they were looking to shut down or franchise their operations in Europe.
The review over the past few months found that different geographies would benefit from different solutions, the company said in its statement. For the UK and Ireland, that means ditching the stores.
“In the UK and Europe, we will maintain our Gap online business,” the company said. “E-commerce continues to grow and we want to meet our customers where they shop. We are becoming a first digital company and we are looking for a partner to help us grow our business online. However, due to market dynamics, “all of the company’s stores will close.
That’s not to say that the brand itself won’t be found outside of the United States. And the brand’s tie-in with Kanye West’s Yeezy has already garnered worldwide attention.
Gap Inc. has a long history of using a franchise model for its overseas operations. On Wednesday, the company called the franchises a “strong and profitable way to amplify the brand in international markets.” Gap uses such partnerships in 35 countries, with “more than 460 stores, 14 independent e-commerce sites and more than 160 multi-channel or pureplay e-commerce sites”, according to its press release.