Gap Proposes Franchising, Seamless Shopping in Plan for Global Expansion

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Gap has had rough times in recent years, with hundreds of store closures and executive swaps. But the clothing company is hedging a unique plan that it hopes will help it continue growing market share worldwide under the helm of its new, more focused Creative Director Rebekka Bay. 

Glenn Murphy, the company’s chairman and CEO, rolled out the blueprint Thursday, noting that the brand aims to franchise Old Navy locations internationally, add Old Navy and Banana Republic stores to the brand’s presence in China and have a stronger push across all channels for all of its brands, including Athleta, Piperlime and Intermix, Mediapost reports

“We see [the opportunity for global growth] particularly in some countries where in our category, you’re talking about double-digit growth just to keep up with the market,” an exec said during the call, according to Fool.com, which named China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia as a few of the countries in question. Old Navy is expected to be the first of the Gap brands that goes into Asian markets that it hasn’t entered just yet. Up to 85 stores are expected to be opened before year’s end and 10 of those will be outlets.[more]

As for the Gap brand, it will open 75 new locations in places like Brazil and China and explore opportunities in India. Murphy went on to say that the company is aiming to create a “seamless shopping experience for customers, who are increasingly demanding new ways to combine shopping in stores with online browsing and buying,” in the next five years, Mediapost notes. That will include such services as “ship-from-store, find-in-store, and reserve-in-store.” The hope is that consumers who begin their shopping experience on the Gap website might then find themselves in the stores, trying on (and, of course, purchasing) other items. Here in the states, Gap hopes that its continued partnership with AMC’s Mad Men will boost sales for the struggling Banana Republic brand. 

While digital efforts will be good globally, Gap is really hoping that its brick-and-mortar expansion will help the brand continue to grow. After all, China’s apparel market should be more than $200 billion by next year,  Japan’s is currently worth more than $110 billion and Brazil’s more than $50 billion market is growing quickly, Forbes reports.

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