UK retailer Next and struggling US fashion giant Gap have formed a joint venture that will see Next manage Gap’s UK website and place concessions in some stores.
The move will preserve some of Gap’s physical presence on the high street following plans by Gap to close all 81 stores in the UK in July.
It is a similar deal to one signed with clothing brand Reiss earlier this year.
Next is also increasing the number of brands available on its online platform.
Its “Total” platform enables it to manage the e-commerce operations of other fashion brands, including customer service, payment systems, and logistics, and it currently hosts the Victoria’s Secret and Childsplay Clothing brands.
On the news, Next shares rose 2.5 percent to £81.98 by Friday afternoon.
Next will own 51% of the new venture, with Gap owning the remaining 49%. Customers will be able to use Next’s click-and-collect service at its 500 stores as a result of the agreement.
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“Gap is partnering with Next, one of the UK’s leading online clothing retailers, to amplify our omnichannel business and meet our customers in the UK and Ireland where they are shopping now,” said Gap Global CEO Mark Breitbard.
According to Natalie Berg, founder of NBK Retail and a retail analyst, the deal is Gap’s “best shot” at reviving its brand.
“The Gap brand may have lost its way, but it’s still a very old brand,” she told the BBC. “The unsettling truth is that they had far too many stores.”
“What Next is doing with it as a shop within a shop generates excitement and makes customers want to go into the store.”
She finds it ironic that Next and Gap are collaborating when they are both middle-tier High Street brands that have competed for years for the same customer demographics.
“Who would have thought next and gap would have come together a few years ago?”