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Gap to shut Banana Republic stores in Britain

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US apparel group Gap Inc will close its Banana Republic stores in Britain as it streamlines its brick-and-mortar presence outside North America in response to weak sales.

[NEW YORK] US apparel group Gap Inc will close its Banana Republic stores in Britain as it streamlines its brick-and-mortar presence outside North America in response to weak sales.

Gap will shut all eight Banana Republic stores in Britain, a Gap spokeswoman said. The majority of closures will take place by the end of January.

The apparel maker will continue to serve British customers through a dedicated Banana Republic website.

Gap in early May said it was reviewing its footprint for its Banana Republic and Old Navy chains outside the US market "in order to sharpen its focus on geographies with the greatest potential". Gap said subsequently that it would shutter all 53 Old Navy stores in Japan in 2016.

Since being founded 47 years ago, Gap has grown into one of the most visible global brands for youth apparel. But the company has been challenged in the last couple of years by online competitors and the rise of other "fast fashion" chains like Zara and Uniqlo.

The Gap Inc operates stores under the Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta brands.

The group recently reported a 3 per cent decline in comparable sales for August, with Banana Republic falling 10 per cent.

Gap shares lost 1.3 per cent in afternoon trade at US$25.82.

AFP