LONDON: In another blow to the UK retail sector, the US clothing company Gap has announced that it will close all its stores in the UK by the end of the year, as it will move its activities exclusively in line.
The closures will be phased in by the end of September and include the company’s outlets in Ireland. A total of 81 stores will close.
It is not known how many jobs will be affected, but the company has insisted it will provide “support and transition assistance” to its employees.
âE-commerce continues to grow and we want to meet our customers where they shop,â Gap said in a statement Wednesday evening, adding that they intended to be a âdigital first companyâ.
The retailer, which has been active in the UK since 1987 and since 2006 in Ireland, was emblematic of the epitome of the American ‘T-shirt-and-jeans’ look that has been popular for decades. His hoodies featuring the company name and denim had long been top-selling items.
But in recent years, Gap’s appeal has collapsed, overtaken by e-commerce sites that have made its offerings bland.
He is also the latest victim of the pandemic that has hit the British economy. Department store chain Debenhams and Arcadia Group, billionaire Philip Green’s retail empire that includes Topshop, have been two of the biggest casualties in recent months.
“The Gap-sized hole in Main Street that will remain when the US retailer closes its last stores in late September will be difficult to fill, given the big names who have already left brick and mortar stores behind.” , said Susannah. Streeter, Senior Investment and Markets Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Securities Dealers.
Last year the UK experienced one of the deepest recessions in the world after foreclosure restrictions were imposed. While the easing of restrictions has allowed the economy to recover, questions remain about the future of the retail sector given that so much shopping is now done online.
Not all retailers in the UK are suffering like the Gap.
Rival Primark, known for its low-cost fashion, on Thursday hailed “several new sales records”, “reflecting an increase in both our customers’ confidence and willingness to spend.” The brand, which does not have an online retail division, says it continues to drive store openings and investments across the UK and Europe despite the impact of the closures.
And another rival, Sweden’s H&M, also took a more bullish tone, as it turned in better-than-expected profits after a rebound in sales.