ROME — As part of its bullish international expansion strategy, Gap Inc. opened its first Gap flagship in Rome on Saturday and said it hopes to open four new Gap and Banana Republic stores in Italy by the end of 2011.
Despite pressures from rising production costs and having slashed its full-year profit outlook in May, the company is marching on with expansion plans and expects to reach 25 new company store openings worldwide by yearend.
“Only 15 percent of our business [in terms of revenue] is booked outside of the U.S. We hope to reach 30 percent by 2013,” said Sonia Syngal, managing director and senior vice president of Gap Inc.’s Europe business during a preview walk-through on Friday.
The first Gap and Banana Republic stores were opened in the Italian fashion capital of Milan late last year. Gap Inc. said the two Milan stores combined are among the top-performing units in the company’s worldwide network. Gap Inc. also has two smaller mall stores and one outlet store in Italy, and said it expects to open additional stores in Italian outlet centers.
The company declined to comment on where it plans to open additional stores in Italy.
Last year, the Gap brand also made its products available to European customers online by launching an e-commerce site specifically for Europe. The site services 21 European countries, including Italy.
On average, Italians spend more than U.S. customers and there is significant demand in Italy for the company’s kids and baby segments, Syngal said.
The new Gap store in Rome is located on Via del Corso, in the heart of the historic center — just a short walk from the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. One of the busiest shopping promenades in the nation, Via del Corso has changed significantly over the last 10 years and now contains several international chains, including fast-fashion juggernauts Zara and H&M.
Gap Inc. sees stores like Zara as an important global competitor, explained Syngal, but said that Gap has a “distinct advantage,” as it offers high-quality wardrobe staples like the denim that the company is famous for throughout the U.S.
The two-story, 14,111-square-foot space was originally a bank and most recently a book store. To celebrate the building’s past, the store houses a book corner with a variety of art and style books.
Several of the structure’s original elements have been preserved, including a Forties mural by Giulio Russo showcasing men on a scaffold wearing white T-shirts and denim. The piece was restored with the help of a team of Vatican artists.
The store houses Gap adult, GapKids, babyGap and GapBody and on Saturday will begin selling items for fall and summer, including the brand’s new Gap Rome label T-shirts and traditional items like its 1969 Premium Jeans.
The Rome store will also feature a personal stylist studio for individual consultation. The service will be free, but must be booked in advance.
At the end of the first quarter of this year, the San Francisco-based retail giant had more than 190 company operated stores in Europe and more than 500 company operated stores internationally — including Canada, the U.K., France, Ireland, Italy, Japan and China. In addition, the company has more than 180 franchise stores in 25 countries across Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Australia. In June, Gap Inc. said it hopes to double its number of franchise stores to 400 by fiscal year 2014.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye