American fashion giant Gap is considering the closure of all of its company operated stores in Europe along with its UK distribution centre in Rugby.
The company has indicated it is exploring the idea of operating in Europe through “partnerships” both online and in-stores and amplifying the brand in “asset light” ways.
Gap has 70 company operated stores in the UK (it has already been reducing its footprint in the UK via store closures) and a number of company operated stores in Ireland, Italy and France. It also has 158 franchised stores across Europe.
Should the proposal go ahead the company operated stores would be closed by the end of the second quarter of 2021, along with the e-commerce fulfilment centre in Rugby.
“As we conduct the review, we will look at transferring elements of the business to interested third parties as part of a proposed partnership model expansion,” Mark Breitbard, Gap head of global operations, said.
“Franchise partnerships are a strong and cost-effective way to amplify the brand. Through franchise, Gap brand reaches customers in 35 countries with more than 400 stores and 14 e-commerce sites,” Breitbard added.
Gap would be the latest in a line of American retailers to retreat from physical retail in the UK if its plans went ahead.
J.Crew announced the closure of all six of its UK stores last month, having arrived in London in 2013. Gap-owned Banana Republic exited the UK in 2016, American Eagle left in 2017 and Forever 21 in 2019.
Read our recent analysis, Why do so many American fashion brands crash and burn in the UK? here.