Gap is shuttering all its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland, as the fashion brand struggles with falling global sales

Shoppers pass the GAP store on Oxford Street on June 10, 2021 in London, England
Gap said that it would shut its UK and Republic of Ireland stores between late August and late September.

  • Gap is closing all its UK and Ireland stores by the end of September, but said it would still sell clothes online.
  • The retailer has been struggling amid rising e-commerce competition.
  • Falling sales for its Gap brand have been offset by the success of its Old Navy and Athleta lines.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gap is closing all stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland as sales fall globally for the fashion brand.

It will close all 81 stores by the end of September, but continue selling clothes online, it said Wednesday.

Gap attributed the move to “market dynamics.”

“The e-commerce business continues to grow and we want to meet our customers where they are shopping,” the company said in a statement. “We’re becoming a digital first business and we’re looking for a partner to help drive our online business.”

Gap said that it would shut the stores between late August and late September. It opened its first UK store in 1987 and its first in the Republic of Ireland in 2006.

In October, Parent Gap Inc. announced the closure of 350 Gap and Banana Republic stores in North America.

Gap Inc. posted first quarter global net sales of $4 billion, up 8% compared to 2019 – but the success of its Old Navy and Athleta brands drove this increase.

First quarter revenues for its Gap brand fell 16% compared to 2019. In comparison, net sales grew 25% for Old Navy and 56% for Athleta.

“Gap was decades ahead in offering the athleisure styles which have become so popular during the pandemic,” Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said in a statement shared with Insider.

“But even though revenues have surged at Gap over the past year, its own brand ranges haven’t set sales alight.”

The 52-year-old brand, which is still “rooted in its heyday heritage,” has “suffered from a kind of benign neglect,” Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said.

Gap said that it had started a review of its company-operated business in Europe last year to find ways to make it more cost-effective. The company said that it was in talks with Hermione People and Brands, the retail branch of FIB Group, about taking over its stores in France, and was in discussions with another partner for the potential acquisition of its Italian stores.

Online fashion giants have posted soaring revenues during the pandemic

“In this changing retail landscape and with so much shopping shifting to online, shedding expensive rents makes sense for the company, particularly given the success of online-only fashion rivals,” Streeter said.

More Brits have been buying clothes online during waves of government-mandated store closures – leading to soaring revenues for online fast-fashion giants. In the year to February, Boohoo posted sales of £1.75 billion, a 41% growth year-over-year. And in the six months to February, Asos posted sales of £1.98 billion, a jump of nearly a quarter compared to the same period a year before.

Online isn’t the only way for fashion brands to be successful, Hewson said. British giant Primark is topping its pre-pandemic sales despite shunning e-commerce, she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Popeyes is bringing its fried chicken to the UK, and it plans to open 350 restaurants over the next 10 years

Popeyes chicken sandwich
Popeyes is a major player in the chicken sandwich wars.

  • Fried-chicken chain Popeyes plans to open its first UK restaurant later this year, it said Tuesday.
  • Popeyes hasn’t decided on its first location, but plans to open 350 UK branches within 10 years.
  • Popeyes, which kickstarted the chicken-sandwich wars, has more than 3,400 restaurants globally.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Popeyes, the fried-chicken chain, said it would open its first UK restaurant by the end of 2021, and that it planned to open hundreds more over the next decade.

The US chain – a major player in the fast-food industry’s chicken sandwich wars – planned to open 350 restaurants across the UK by 2031, it said Tuesday.

David Shear, president international at Popeyes parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI), told Insider that the company hadn’t yet decided where the first restaurant would be, but that the sites would be spread across both suburban and city-center locations.

Read more: Smashburger president lays out why the brand is looking for prime real estate, not ghost kitchen space

People would be able to order food for delivery through Popeyes’ own app or through other delivery services, Shear said.

Shear said that it’s too early to say whether the new UK restaurants would have food lockers, but Burger King, which has the same parent company, is rolling them out at its sites.

Popeyes chicken
Popeyes is best known for its fried chicken.

The menu at the chain, founded in New Orleans in 1972, is dominated by fried chicken, which Popeyes marinates for 12 hours, and you can buy it in a sandwich or on its own. It also sells other items such as fried shrimp, red beans and rice, and a flounder sandwich.

When asked whether the UK restaurants or menus would differ from those in the US, Shear simply said that Popeyes would “differentiate ourselves just based on product quality … You get what I believe is the best, juiciest, crispiest fried chicken anywhere in the world.”

The UK is set to be Popeyes’ fourth European market, after launching in Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey. The brand already has more than 3,400 restaurants across 29 countries, and is planning a huge expansion in China, where it opened its first restaurant in May.

It’s also opened restaurants in Brazil, and plans to open hundreds of restaurants in Mexico, too.

Popeyes China
Popeyes has restaurants in 29 countries, including China

In October, RBI said it planned to open a Tim Hortons branch in “every major city and town” in the UK by late 2022.

Across its three chains, RBI owns more than 27,000 restaurants around the world, and CEO Jose Cil told investors in August that it planned to grow this to 40,000.

Other US fast-food and fast-casual chains have opened restaurants in the UK, too. Chipotle only has restaurants in London, and Shake Shack has just stuck to major cities, whereas Taco Bell, Five Guys, and Baskin Robbins have a bigger presence.

Popeyes was credited with starting the chicken sandwich wars in 2019, when its sandwich became an instant success following huge social-media buzz. It sold out just two weeks after launch, and the chain sold 250 million of the sandwiches within its first year of launch, Shear told Insider.

“The chicken was incomparably crispy, juicy, and fresh, and all the elements of the sandwich were well balanced,” Irene Jiang wrote at the time in a review for Insider. “Each bite was bursting with flavor.”

Popeyes will be the last of fast-food conglomerate RBI’s three fast-food chains to launch in the UK market, following both Burger King and Tim Hortons.

Read the original article on Business Insider