NEXT has entered into an agreement to manage Gap’s activities in the UK and Ireland as a franchise partner.
However, the move will not trigger a return for Gap’s department store operations, after the retail giant in July revealed plans to cut its 81 stores in the region.
Gap closed its store in downtown Belfast in July, and its Antrim and Banbridge outlet stores are closing today (Saturday).
The move will see the two companies form a joint venture – 51% owned by Next and 49% by Gap – that will see Next operate the digital operations, concessions and click and collect service of the American fashion brand.
New York-listed Gap Inc will continue to produce clothing lines for the brand, but the deal will see Next take over Gap’s day-to-day operations in the UK and Ireland.
It comes shortly after Gap announced it would be leaving Irish and UK shopping streets for good as part of a reshuffle designed to help the group return to sustainable growth.
Next will use its Total Platform online, distribution and logistics system to manage the brand’s operations.
Mark Breitbard, CEO and Chairman of Gap Global, said: âGap is partnering with Next, one of the UK’s leading online clothing retailers, to amplify our omnichannel business and meet our customers in the UK and in Ireland where they are currently shopping. “
Next Chief Executive Officer Lord Simon Wolfson said: âNext is delighted with the prospect of their Total platform supporting Gap in the next step in the development of their world-renowned brand in the UK and Ireland. “
It comes about a year after Next formed a similar joint venture with Victoria’s Secret to run the struggling UK business of the US lingerie company.