The US fashion chain collapsed into administration in June this year, announcing permanent closures of around 81 stores including its flagship Oxford Street branch
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Failed retailer Gap is to return to UK shores with concessions in Next stores, just three months after it collapsed into administration.
The business will sell adult and baby clothes in the UK and Ireland via a deal with the homewares chain – following its exit from the high street in June.
Next said it would stock Gap’s clothing online and host Gap-branded “shop-in-shops” at selected stores.
The venture, which will be 51% owned by Next and 49% by Gap, will also offer click-and-collect options from 2022.
Gap said the deal would allow it to operate more efficiently and benefit from the expertise of Next – which has seen its online sales grow over the past year, despite various lockdowns.
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Next chief executive Lord Wolfson 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.”
Gap said it intends to take business online “in a phased manner”.
The tie-up was announced as official figures showed a surprise fall in retail sales last month – though fashion stores bucked the trend with a 0.7% increase in transactions.
Latest official data on retail sales published on Friday showed online shopping represented 27.7% of all retail sales in August, compared with 19.7% in February 2020, just before the pandemic.
Gap announced earlier this year that it was to close all of its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland.
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In a statement at the time, Gap said: “Due to market dynamics in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, we shared with our team today that we are proposing to close all company-operated Gap Specialty and Gap Outlet stores in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland in a phased manner from the end of August through the end of September 2021.
“We are thoughtfully moving through the consultation process with our European team, and we will provide support and transition assistance for our colleagues as we look to wind down stores.”
It went on to say it was “committed” to serving its customers in Europe and began a strategic review of the business last year “with the goal of finding new, more cost-effective ways to maintain a presence and serve customers”.
“In the United Kingdom and Europe, we are going to maintain our Gap online business,” a statement said.
Gap opened its first outlets in the UK in 1987 and in the Republic Ireland in 2006.
It operates in more than 40 countries, with over 460 stores.
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