Gap Inc., getting increasingly keen on establishing partnerships around the world to fuel turnaround efforts, will be launching stores in India through a new franchising agreement with Reliance Retail Ltd., India’s largest retailer.
“Reliance Retail has become the official retailer for Gap across all channels in India,” Gap Inc. said in a statement Wednesday. “Reliance Retail will introduce Gap’s latest fashion offerings to Indian consumers through a mix of exclusive brand stores, multibrand store expressions and digital commerce platforms.”
The San Francisco-based Gap Inc. cited Reliance Retail’s “established competencies in operating robust omnichannel retail networks and scaling local manufacturing and driving sourcing efficiencies.”
“We look forward to growing the Gap business across key international markets,” said Adrienne Gernand, managing director of international, global licensing and wholesale at Gap Inc. “Partnering with regional experts, like Reliance Retail in India, allows us to deliver our relevant, purpose-driven brand to customers around the globe, while continuing to diversify our business portfolio through our partner-based model.”
A Gap spokeswoman said Gap’s first stores in India are slated to open in fall 2022. The company did not state how many stores are planned at this point.
The company considers partnerships a critical strategy in its ongoing turnaround efforts. Gap’s deal with Reliance marks a return to India following the 2020 collapse of an arrangement with Arvind Fashions, a retail and textile company in India that has also formed agreements with Calvin Klein, Arrow and Tommy Hilfiger, among other brands.
Two-and-a-half years ago, Gap Inc. completed a strategic review of its company-operated business in Europe and decided to close company-owned stores in the region including the 81 Gap and Gap Outlet stores in the U.K. and Ireland. At that time, the company expressed interest in striking up partnerships to maintain its presence there.
Gap last year formed a venture with U.K. clothing retailer Next, which is managing Gap’s e-commerce business as well as opening Gap-branded shops-in-shop at Next locations in the U.K. and Ireland.
Last year in France, Gap formed a partnership with Hermione People & Brands, the retail arm of FIB Group. Under the franchise agreement, HPB took over the operations of the 21 Gap stores in France.
Gap has been in the franchise business since 2006, which has grown into “a sizable portion of our total business with franchise and distribution partners selling our products in about 70 countries through stores and e-commerce,” the company said.
In other recently established partnerships, Gap and De Rigo launched the first collection of Gap-branded eyewear, including sunglasses and optical wear for adults, juniors and kids; Gap and Walmart launched the Gap Home kids collection, and as part of the Yeezy Gap partnership, Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga, a collaboration between Ye, Demna and Gap, was launched. Gap has also been collaborating with artists on NFTs.
Reliance Retail Ltd., founded in 2006, operates more than 12,700 stores in India, and generated a volume of $21.6 billion and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $1.3 billion last year.
Reliance is headquartered in Nariman Point, Mumbai, India and retails several merchandise categories including groceries, apparel, footwear, electronic goods, and farm equipment. According to its website, Reliance has a portfolio of more than 40 international brands such as Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Diesel, Gas, Marks & Spencer, Superdry, Brooks Brothers and Steve Madden. Reliance Retail operates Ajio.com, a fashion and lifestyle website, and Jiomart, a multicategory online shopping platform that leverages Reliance Retail’s stores and supply chain infrastructure.
“At Reliance Retail, we pride ourselves in bringing the latest and best to our customers and we are happy to announce the addition of iconic American brand Gap to our fashion and lifestyle portfolio. We believe that Reliance and Gap complement each other in their vision to bring industry leading fashion products and retail experiences to their consumers,” said Akhilesh Prasad, chief executive officer, fashion and lifestyle, Reliance Retail.