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Gap's UK stores to escape the axe

Gap’s strategy to close many of its US stores in a major cost-cutting exercise will not be followed through in the UK, although it is understood leases on some stores will be allowed to lapse.

The US chain, which has battled for some years to remain relevant in a fiercely competitive fashion market, revealed earlier this week that it would close 175 of its North American stores over the next few years, including 140 in 2015. It also said a “limited number” of its European stores would close, but declined to provide details.

Property sources told Drapers Gap had not revealed plans to put any of its 100-plus UK stores up for sale, but said the leases on some shops would not be renewed when they expire.

A spokeswoman for Gap would not be drawn on the UK’s retail strategy, but said of its European plans: “Because the stores are closing over the course of the year – and some over one to three years – we will be reviewing each store on a case-by-case basis as we prepare for closure or as leases expire. We are not disclosing the list of stores or locations at this time.”

Gap’s move to dispose of stores and axe around 250 jobs comes days after its US competitor J Crew revealed it was laying off 175 of its head office staff following a drop in sales.

The loss of jobs is not expected to impact the UK market, where the preppy retailer plans to open a store on Redchurch Street, east London, later this year, bringing its total in the country to six.

Earlier this month, Drapers revealed that US retailer Banana Republic would be shifting an undisclosed number of product and supporting job roles – thought to be around 30 – from its London office to the global headquarters of its parent company Gap in San Francisco. Banana Republic confirmed the plans but declined to provide further details.

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