Next agrees franchise deal with Gap but will not save UK stores

Next has agreed a deal to run Gap’s business in the UK and Ireland as a franchise partner.

However, the move will not spark a return for Gap’s high street operations, after the retail giant revealed plans in July to axe its 81 stores in the region.

The move will see the two firms form a joint venture – with 51% owned by Next and 49% by Gap – which will see Next operate the US fashion brand’s digital operations, concessions and click and collect service.

New York-listed Gap Inc will continue to produce clothing ranges for the brand but the deal will see Next take over the day-to-day operations of Gap in the UK and Ireland.

Next will own 51% of the new joint venture (Ian West/PA)

It comes shortly after Gap said it would leave the UK high street for good as part of a shake-up designed to help the group return to sustainable growth.

Next will use its Total Platform online, distribution and logistics system to run operations for the brand.

Mark Breitbard, chief executive officer and president of Gap Global, said: “Gap is partnering with Next, one of the UK’s leading online clothing retailers, to amplify our omnichannel business and meet our customers in UK and Ireland where they are shopping now.”

Next chief executive Lord Simon 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.”

It comes around a year after Next struck a similar joint venture with Victoria’s Secret to run the US lingerie firm’s struggling UK business.

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