FASHION giant Gap will close all its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland in another blow to Britain’s battered high streets.
The clothing chain will go completely online as it pushes to become a “digital first business”, it was announced tonight.
The US retailer said it would shut all its UK stores “in a phased manner” between August and September.
It includes 19 stores that were due to close as their leases were expiring at the end of July.
It’s not known yet how many jobs will be lost, with a staff consultation period to be started shortly.
Gap said it was “not exiting the UK market” with the decision following a strategic review of the retail giant’s European business.
GAP TO CLOSE
Britain’s pandemic-weary high streets recently lost Debenhams and Arcadia – which owned Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins – as retail favourites battle to survive the impact of Covid.
In a statement, a Gap spokesman said: “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.”
We’re becoming a digital first business and we’re looking for a partner to help drive our online business
A Gap spokesman
It come after a strategic review was launched to find “new, more cost-effective ways to maintain a presence and serve customers”, the statement said.
The store closures follows news last year that Gap was considering closing all of its shops in the UK, as well as 59 others across Europe.
Gap said it wanted to operate in Europe through “partnerships” instead.
In 2019, Gap closed more than 200 stores worldwide amid plunging sales in a bid to save the brand.
Gap said it was carrying out the restructuring in an effort to “revitalise brand health”.
The iconic fashion giant was founded in 1969, opened its first outlets in the UK in 1987 and in the Republic of Ireland in 2006.
But it has struggled against UK high street favourites like H&M, Primark, and Zara.
And the closure of its shops comes as experts warned the pandemic has been the the “worst time ever for retail”.
Last month, Marks & Spencer announced it was planning to close 30 more stores after the pandemic hit clothing and home sales.
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Thorntons revealed it would be shutting all of its stores after taking a hammering during the pandemic, putting 600 jobs at risk.
And Debenhams closed all of its shops for good after a mega closing down sale in May. The company collapsed into administration last year.
Here’s the list of shops that have had to close for good over the Covid crisis.