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Gap stores in Kent at risk as firm says all UK shops could close

The future of every Gap store in Kent is in doubt after the retailer announced it could close all of its UK shops.

In a move that could put thousands of jobs at risk, the US firm says it is considering shifting to a franchise-only model in Europe.

The future of Gap's store in Bluewater is at risk
The future of Gap's store in Bluewater is at risk

Shops in the UK, France, Ireland and Italy could shut next summer, along with its UK-based European distribution centre, the retailer said.

It currently has stores in Tunbridge Wells , Sevenoaks , Ashford Designer Outlet , and Bluewater shopping centre

Gap has already confirmed it will close the Tunbridge Wells store in Royal Victoria Place, with the keys set to be handed back to the landlord on Christmas Eve.

But its latest announcement - which comes after a reported £740m loss in the three months to May - puts the future of the remaining county shops in doubt.

Instead of operating its own stores, Gap says it is looking at whether to move to a franchise model.

The retailer had 129 Gap-branded stores in Europe at the end of July, and about 400 franchise stores.

A spokesman for the company said yesterday: "Today, we shared with our team that we are starting a strategic review of options for our Gap business in Europe.

"One of the options being explored is the possible closure of our company-operated Gap stores in the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Italy at the end of the second quarter in 2021.

"In addition, we are reviewing our warehouse and distribution model and our Gap and Banana Republic company-owned e-commerce operations in Europe. A possible outcome is the closure of our EU distribution center in Rugby."

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