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Gap Will Close All Stores in the UK and Ireland

The apparel retailer will close 81 stores as it adjusts to changing consumer behavior.

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There will be no more Gap stores in the United Kingdom or Ireland by the end of September, CNN reports.  In a statement, the retailer attributed “market dynamics” for the decision, after reviewing its European business to find "new, more cost-effective ways" to serve customers. 

Rob Pinney | Getty Images

The closings will proceed in a “phased manner” and impact only company-owned stores. Gap didn’t say how many jobs will be lost. "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.”

The American retailer says it’s also in talks with a “potential partner” for its stores in Italy. In France, the company is negotiating with the retail branch of FIB Group, a property developer. Meanwhile Gap is planning to sell its outlets in both countries. 

Gap’s store closings in the U.K. and Ireland mark an end to its European expansion which started over 30-years ago. In 1987, Gap’s opened its first overseas store in London.  Ireland followed in 2006.  

But Gap, which also owns Banana Republic and Old Navy,  has been struggling against growing competition in the “casual space,” according to analyst Susannah Streeter at Hargreaves Lansdown. “Languishing footfall” in shopping centers and main streets hasn’t helped.

Last October, Gap announced a three-year plan to shutter hundreds of stores in North America --- about a third of its retail domain. The steep rise of e-commerce, especially with COVID-19, forced several brick-and-mortar stores like Brooks Brothers to go bankrupt. But Gap says it will keep its presence online where shopping has skyrocketed during the pandemic.