Gap comes back from the brink to sell its latest fashion lines through Next’s stores and website
GAP has gained a new lease of life on the High Street after announcing a tie-up with Next.
The US retailer decided earlier this year to close its 81 UK and Ireland stores following a period of sliding sales.
But a deal with Next will see the brand – which first came to the UK in 1987 – keep a physical presence in town centres.
Tie-up: Gap clothes will be offered within selected Next stores and Next’s Total platform will also host Gap’s online shopping business
Gap clothes will be offered within selected Next stores. And Next’s Total platform will also host Gap’s online shopping business.
The joint venture will be 51 per cent owned by Next, and 49 per cent by Gap.
Mark Breitbard, chief executive of Gap Global, said the company was planning to ‘meet our customers in UK and Ireland where they are shopping now’.
Gap’s decision to close its 81 stores came as little surprise to experts in the fashion industry.
The brand, once famed for offering American classics like jeans, khakis and hoodies at affordable prices, struggled to stay relevant in a market where retailers like Uniqlo and Weekday were better at keeping up with the trends.
But it was still a blow to the High Street, which in recent years has lost brands such as Topshop, Debenhams and Cath Kidston.
Store boy: Lord Wolfson joined Next as a sales consultant in its Kensington store in 1991, rising quickly through the ranks before becoming chief executive in 2001
Online retailers Asos and Boohoo respectively own the Topshop and Debenhams brands.
Next, which has around 500 stores in the UK and Ireland, has been moving fast to innovate.
It struck a deal with US lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret to run its UK business, and just months ago snapped up a 25 per cent stake in upmarket Reiss, to whom it will provide warehouse and distribution services.
It expects to make a £750million pre-tax profit this year.
Chief executive Lord Wolfson, 53, said: ‘Next is delighted at the prospect of its Total platform supporting Gap on the next stage of development of their world-renowned brand in the UK and Ireland.’
Wolfson – who joined Next as a sales consultant in its Kensington store in 1991, rising quickly through the ranks before becoming chief executive in 2001 – has been leading the firm’s transformation from a tired High Street chain to a retail behemoth with an online presence to rival Asos and Boohoo.
Its online marketplace hosts third-party brands such as River Island, Ted Baker and Superdry.
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