Gap to close all 81 UK and Ireland stores and move online-only to ‘meet shoppers where they are’

Fashion retailer, Gap is exiting the UK high street, with plans to close all 81 stores in the UK and Ireland, the American company has confirmed this week.

The decision has been struck following a review of the fashion brand’s operations across Europe and will see the company shift to online only in the markets affected. As a result, all 81 stores across the UK and Ireland will be shut ‘in a phased manner’ from the end of August through to the end of September this year.

The move is part of the firm’s strategy to ‘meet customers where they are shopping’, detailing its plans to become a ‘digital first business’ as it now begins the search for a partner to help it drive its business online.

“In the United Kingdom and Europe, we are going to maintain our Gap online business,” said the company in a statement issue this week.

“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.”

The news is seen as another blow to the UK high street which has suffered a number of losses over the last 18 months, including brands Debenhams which closed its last remaining stores on May 15th this year and was bought by Boohoo for £55m in January to operate as an online-only, and Arcadia, the group behind Topshop, Burton, and Dorothy Perkins which closed 31 stores this year after falling into administration in November 2020.

Several of its brands were bought by online retailer ASOS, including Topshop and Topman.