The American fashion business has agreed to a joint venture which will sell clothes online using Next's platform as well as operating Gap-branded "shop-in-shops" at selected locations.
Image: Gap has announced the closure of its UK and Ireland stores
US fashion brand Gap is to sell its wares in the UK and Ireland via a deal with Next – after announcing earlier this year that its own stores would close.
The two companies have formed a joint venture to operate Gap’s e-commerce business across Next’s Total online platform and host Gap-branded “shop-in-shops” at selected retail locations.
The venture, which will be 51% owned by Next and 49% by Gap, will also offer click-and-collect options from 2022.
Image: The joint venture will see Gap “shop-in-shops” at some locations
Gap said the deal would allow it to operate in a “more efficient partner model” and benefit from the digital expertise of Next – which has seen its online sales growing even as trade in stores declines.
Mark Breitbard, chief executive of Gap Global, said the deal would see the brand “meet our customers in UK & Ireland where they are shopping now”.
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 announced earlier this year that it was to close all of its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland.
It was another blow to the high street after brands including Topshop and Topman – part of collapsed retail empire Arcadia – and department store chain Debenhams closed their doors before being sold to new owners as online-only operations.
The tie-up between Next and Gap was announced as official figures showed a surprise fall in retail sales last month – though fashion stores bucked the trend with a 0.7% rise.
Stores have been battered by the impact of prolonged shutdowns during the pandemic, which has also accelerated a shift to online sales.
Latest official data on retail sales published on Friday showed online represented 27.7% of them in August compared with 19.7% in February 2020, just before the pandemic.
Gap’s arrangement with Next comes months after Next snapped up a 25% stake in smaller upmarket rival Reiss, in a deal which also sees Next provide warehouse and distribution services.
Next has also struck a similar joint venture deal with Victoria’s Secret to run the US lingerie firm’s UK business.Internet Explorer Channel Network