Gap to close 19 UK and Ireland stores

US fashion retailer Gap plans to close 19 of its UK and Republic of Ireland stores.

Gap did not disclose the location of the impacted stores, but the move will take effect on July 31 when the existing leases are set to expire.

The San Francisco-headquartered company also owns and operates the Banana Republic, Old Navy, Intermix, Hill City, and Athleta brands and is the third largest retailer in terms of physical locations worldwide apart from H&M and Zara owner Inditex Group.

The future of the retailer’s remaining 50 stores in the UK and Ireland is still pending review.

The closures follow a strategic review launched in 2020, where it made the decision to potentially shift its European operations to a franchise-only model.

This shift would see the retailer close it’s 129 company-owned stores in Europe and its UK warehouse in Rugby, Warwickshire.

The retailer has found partners for its new franchise model in France and Italy but is still in negotiations with interested parties in the UK and Ireland.

Gap’s sales rose 28 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021, and 13 per cent versus 2019, besting pre-pandemic results.

Despite lockdown regulations, the fast-fashion company improved its net income for the first quarter to $166 million from a $932 million loss a year earlier.

The retailer closed one of its two flagship Oxford Street stores in December 2020.

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