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Next to Run Gap Brand in Britain's Retail Shake-Up

LONDON (Reuters) - British clothing retailer Next has struck a deal with Gap, to run the U.S. brand’s business in the UK and Ireland, bolstering its market reach after showing its resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deal gives Gap the opportunity to retain a significant presence in Britain and Ireland, having closed its shops in those markets earlier this year.

The two groups will form a joint venture to operate Gap’s e-commerce business across the NEXT Total Platform, set-up Gap-branded Shop-in-Shops and offer click-and-collect options for online customers beginning in 2022.

Shares in Next were up 1.6% at 0842 GMT, extending their 2021 gains to 16.3%.

The partnership echoes moves by online retailers ASOS and Boohoo to snap up fashion brands that have gone out of business in the UK and are no longer available on the high street.

ASOS bought the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands in February from the administrators of Philip Green’s collapsed Arcadia group for 265 million pounds.

In January, Boohoo purchased the Debenhams brand out of administration for 55 million pounds and in February bought the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands from the Arcadia administrators for 25.2 million pounds.

Next will own 51% of the JV, while Gap will own 49%.

Gap will be able to utilise Next’s UK and Ireland store network of around 500 stores.

Next also has an online presence in over 70 countries selling its own brand and over 700 other fashion, home and beauty brands.

“Gap is partnering with Next ... to amplify our omnichannel business and meet our customers in (the) UK & Ireland where they are shopping now,” said Mark Breitbard, CEO and President of Gap Global.

In July, Next lifted its profit forecast after pent-up demand for adult clothes and warm weather helped it smash sales forecasts.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Alexander Smith

Source: Reuters

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