Gap sets up shop in South Africa

Gap Inc. opened two stores in South Africa this week as the global retailer set up a base for expansion into the continent – and said it expected more retailers to enter the country in the next few years as the local retail sector matured.

Gap Inc’s first African store opens at Sandton City Mall. (Image: Jeff Attaway)

Brand South Africa reporter
Gap’s opened its first store in Johannesburg’s Sandton City Mall on Tuesday, followed by a second in Cape Town’s Tyger Valley Centre on Wednesday – and according to financial news agency I-Net Bridge, plans to open a third in Pretoria’s Brooklyn Mall later this year.

“We are excited to bring Gap’s casual American style and store experience to more customers in South Africa,” Stefan Laban, Gap’s MD of strategic alliances, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“South Africa is the natural next step for expanding our presence on the continent. The country has a thriving economy and high Gap brand awareness, so we believe there is tremendous opportunity for us in the market,” Laban said.

Each store will house product from the international Gap, GapKids and babyGap collections, and the assortment will be customized seasonally to best suit the needs of local customers and the warm South African climate.

Gap’s move follows that of Spain’s Inditex Group – Europe’s largest fashion retailer – which opened its first South African Zara store in Sandton late last year, and its second at the Gateway Shopping Centre outside Durban in March.

The Gap will tailor its collections to match South Africa’s seasons. (Image: Anthony Starks)

Laban told I-Net Bridge this week that, as demand slowed in Europe and the US, more retailers were seeking growth in emerging markets such as South Africa.

Gap sells clothing, accessories and personal care products for men, women, children and babies under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, and Athleta brands.

Its products are available in over 90 countries through about 3 000 company-operated stores, over 200 franchise stores, as well as e-commerce websites. The company’s net sales for fiscal year 2011 amounted to US$14.5-billion.

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