Gap is going online only in Britain and Ireland and is looking to sell its stores in Italy and France.
The apparel retailer said it will close all 81 of its company-owned stores in the U.K. and Ireland by the end of September. Gap, which has operated stores in the U.K. since 1987 and in Ireland since 2006, will maintain its online business in both countries.
Gap said the decision to close the stores follows a strategic review of its European business "with the goal of finding new, more cost-effective ways to maintain a presence and serve customers in Europe.”
“The e-commerce business continues to grow and we want to meet our customers where they are shopping,” the company said in a statement. “We’re becoming a digital-first business and we’re looking for a partner to help drive our online business.”
Gap also gave an update on its operations in two other European countries: Italy and France. The company is in discussions in Italy with a partner for the potential acquisition of its Gap stores, and is in negotiations with Hermione People and Brands, the retail branch of FIB Group, to take over Gap stores in France.
In its statement, Gap noted that franchise partnerships “are a strong and cost-effective way to amplify the brand in international markets.”
Through franchise, Gap brand reaches customers in 35 countries with more than 460 stores, 14 standalone e-commerce sites and more than 160 multichannel or pureplay e-commerce sites.