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Overseas growth is priority for Gap

Gap has reaffirmed its commitment to international business after it axed its London-based European design team last week.

The casualwear retailer said its European president Stephen Sunnucks would now shift his focus away from product towards developing the group’s presence outside the US and beyond its existing markets including the UK and Japan.

Sunnucks introduced the European design team, which was intended to create product better suited to the UK market, soon after he joined the Gap business in 2006, but last week the operation was shut down as part of a wider cost-cutting drive. Last week Gap also reported that its international like-for-like sales had fallen back 9% in July.

A spokeswoman for Gap said: “Stephen will now focus on launching new brands in new markets. We have opened in Turkey recently and there are stores in Russia.”

The business has no immediate plans for any new UK stores, but Sunnucks will look at launching an online operation in the UK, as well as opening more of the group’s Banana Republic stores, which debuted in London in March.

Meanwhile, Gap said there would continue to be some product designed specifically for European customers but that this would come out of its US office under the charge of head of design Patrick Lewis.

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