Gap brand has strong global awareness and a large, active customer base. We believe in its international power and are committed to growing the reach of Gap's brand of Modern American Optimism across the 40+ countries where we operate.
As part of our Power Plan 2023, we began a strategic review of company-operated Gap businesses in Europe to maximize the opportunities for our brand in these key international markets. Through this process, we determined that the most effective way to grow our business in Europe would be through strong local franchise partners capable of engaging consumers with excellent customer experiences across powerful omni platforms that can extend Gap’s reach in each market.
Today, we’re excited to announce plans to amplify our European business through a partnership in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. We are partnering with NEXT Plc for our Gap business in the UK & Ireland, giving us the benefit of their extensive omni platform and their e-commerce expertise as the UK’s number one online clothing retailer.
Beginning in 2022, our companies are entering a joint venture franchise partnership to manage our growing e-commerce business, including Gap.co.uk and Gap product on the NEXT website, as well as Gap-branded Shop-in-Shops at flagship NEXT locations and extensive click-and-collect options for online customers.
We are happy to report we are also making progress in our EU markets. As we previously announced, in France we are looking to partner with Hermione People and Brands, who would own and operate the Gap stores in the market and build our franchise operations there. Pending regulatory approval, we plan to transfer 21 French stores and the majority of Gap France employees to Hermione People and Brands in October 2021. In Italy, we are in exclusive negotiations with a partner to take over company-operated Gap stores there.
Once again, we want to thank our European colleagues whose hard work has helped build the powerful brand we have today. Because of Gap’s solid foundation, we can now amplify our reach through strategic partnerships that will make us even stronger and able to continue to deliver incredible products and experiences to our customers in Europe and around the world.
Mark Breitbard, Head of Gap Brand Global
Adrienne Gernand, Head of Franchise & Strategic Alliances