US fashion retailer Gap announces closures across UK stores, impacting sites in the North East
The American fashion retailer Gap has announced it is to close all 81 of its stores in the UK and Ireland.
The US retail giant said it would close all its stores "in a phased manner" between the end of August and the end of September, as it revealed plans to go “online-only”.
19 of its stores that were already scheduled to close in July, since leases at the sites were expiring, are included in the list of outlets to close.
North East stores in Dalton Park, near Seaham, and the Royal Quays Outlet, in North Shields, will be impacted by the announcement.
The news deals yet another blow to high streets across the region, many of which are still reeling from the mid-pandemic collapse of the Arcadia and the Debenhams retail empires.
A spokesperson for Gap said the decision followed a strategic review carried out into its European businesses. The firm said it was "not exiting the UK market" and would continue to offer a web-based store when all the shops had closed.
It is not yet clear how many job losses will result from the retailer’s decision to move towards an online service, but the company said a consultation process with staff would soon begin.
"We believe in Gap's global brand power,” the spokesperson said.
"We are executing against Gap's Power Plan and partnering to amplify our global reach.
"We are not exiting the UK market. We will continue to run and operate our Gap e-commerce business in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland "