The British clothing retailer Next has struck a deal with Gap to run its business in the UK and Ireland, months after the US chain confirmed it was shutting all its high street stores in those countries.
Under the terms of the agreement, Next will operate Gap’s online shopping business, host branded Gap concessions in selected retail locations, and offer “extensive” click-and-collect options for online shoppers. Next has about 500 retail stores in the UK and Ireland.
The franchise deal will operate as a joint venture, with Next controlling a 51% stake, and shoppers will be able to buy Gap clothing via Next from the beginning of 2022.
The agreement allows the US retailer to maintain a presence on British high streets after it announced the closure of 81 stores in the UK and Ireland in June. The closure programme will ultimately result in the loss of about 1,000 jobs, with the last Gap stores shutting at the end of this month.
“Gap is partnering with Next, one of the UK’s leading online clothing retailers, to amplify our omnichannel business and meet our customers in the UK and Ireland where they are shopping now,” said Mark Breitbard, the chief executive of Gap Global.
Next, which is recovering strongly from the pandemic, with shoppers flocking back to the high street since it reopened stores this year, said the deal would “allow Gap to operate its business in the UK and Ireland in a more efficient partner model”.
Next is the UK’s biggest internet clothing retailer, ahead Asos and Boohoo. The UK chain has announced a string of investor-pleasing performance upgrades this year and expects to make a £750m pre-tax profit.
It comes a year after Next struck a similar joint venture with Victoria’s Secret to run the US lingerie firm’s struggling UK business.