Struggling specialty chain Gap Inc. is continuing its international push, broadening its reach into Eastern Europe, as it continues to deal with issues within its domestic chains.


The San Francisco-based retailer said Friday that it inked deals with existing franchise partners that will bring Gap brand stores to Belgrade, Serbia, and Kiev, Ukraine, this year. The Belgrade store is slated to open later this year, while the Kiev store is set to open next month.


“We look forward to bringing Gap’s distinctively American aesthetic to consumers in Ukraine, which is considered the fastest growing retail market in Eastern Europe, and Serbia with its young customers who love to shop,” said Stephen Sunnucks, president of Gap International. “With few international brands on the scene today, both markets underscore the effectiveness of our fast and flexible business model to successfully execute our global expansion strategy.”


According to the company, over the last five years, Gap has grown its franchise store base to about 180 and expanded from two to 24 countries throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Australia.


With today’s announcement, the company now has franchise agreements in place to bring its brands to 28 countries, including Chile and Egypt in fiscal year 2011. The Gap said it plans to double its number of franchise stores to 400 by fiscal year 2015.

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