Following 15 months of draconian lockdown restrictions, Gap has announced the closure of all its 81 stores in the U.K. and Ireland, with an estimated loss of over 1,000 jobs. The U.S. clothing retailer is also considering reducing store numbers in both France and Italy and blames “market dynamics” for massive losses last year. MailOnline has the story.
Phased closures will start in August and continue through to September, the U.S. chain revealed.
It comes after a year of coronavirus lockdowns battering the U.K. high street, with other popular chains including TopShop going under. …[Gap said in a statement]: “In the United Kingdom and Europe, we are going to maintain our Gap online business.
“The e-commerce business continues to grow and we want to meet our customers where they are shopping. We’re becoming a digital-first business and we’re looking for a partner to help drive our online business.
“However, due to market dynamics in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, we shared with our team today that we are proposing to close all company-operated Gap Specialty and Gap Outlet stores in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland in a phased manner from the end of August through the end of September 2021.
“We are thoughtfully moving through the consultation process with our European team, and we will provide support and transition assistance for our colleagues as we look to wind down stores.” …
For the year from February 1st, 2020, Gap’s U.K. retail sales fell by 9.5% to £195.1 million. Its operating losses were at £40.7 million. …
Founded in 1969 and headquartered in San Francisco, the firm has struggled in recent years and like most retailers saw store footfall slump during the pandemic. …
It comes just months after high street giant Debenhams confirmed the last of its stores would close for the final time.
The department store launched a post-lockdown fire sale before the chain shuttered its stores, marking the end of a 242-year presence in Britain’s towns and cities.
The outlook for Britain’s high street is dire. More than 11,000 outlets permanently closed in 2020 and the Local Data Company expects that this will be followed by 18,000 more closures in 2021.
The MailOnline report is worth reading in full.