Next Plc will run Gap Inc.’s business in the U.K. and Ireland just months after the U.S. retailer announced it was closing all 81 stores and moving to an online-only operation in the two European countries.
The British chain said it will form a joint venture with Gap to operate the brand’s e-commerce business on a franchise basis and provide Gap-branded “shop-in-shops” and click-and-collect points in some Next stores. Next will own 51% of the joint venture and Gap will own the rest, Next said in a statement on Friday.
Gap will be able to operate in Britain and Ireland more efficiently and benefit from Next’s e-commerce expertise, the U.K. retailer said.
This is the latest deal that Next has struck as it seeks to build up its Total Platform division, a unit that allows other brands to use its IT, warehousing and logistics network for their own e-commerce. The retailer already runs the Victoria’s Secret business in the U.K. and Ireland in a joint venture with the lingerie chain’s owner, L Brands International. Next also recently bought a 25% stake in the fashion brand Reiss, which is migrating its online operations to Total Platform. It also has agreements with other brands including Laura Ashley and Childsplay.
Gap has struggled with its European operations amid a highly competitive and crowded fashion market. In June, the company said it would close all stores in the U.K. and Ireland following a strategic review. The retailer is also planning to offload stores in France and Italy.
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