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Gap to close down UK merchandising operation

Gap has placed its entire UK-based merchandising team into consultation as it continues to centralise its global operations in the US, Drapers understands.

The changes are thought to affect all roles within the UK team, from allocators and assistant merchandisers to merchandising directors.

The jobs will no longer be available in London from the end of July onwards, said one source. Some members of the UK team will have the option to relocate to the New York head office. A spokeswoman for Gap declined to comment.

Gap has been shifting its global workforce to New York over the past couple of years, in an attempt to become more responsive to changing shopping environments and customer needs.

Some of its UK-based buying and merchandising roles were placed under review and relocated in July 2015.

At the time, Gap said: “The goal of the decisions being made at our headquarters offices is to ensure our teams are nimble and can create a consistent global brand experience.”

At around the same time, Gap Inc-owned retailer Banana Republic shifted an undisclosed number of product and supporting job roles from its London office to Gap’s global headquarters in San Francisco.

In October 2016, Banana Republic announced that it would close all eight of its UK stores by the end of its financial year. It continues to operate its UK website.

Gap Inc had 118 company operated stores in the UK in the third quarter of its current fiscal year, down from 123 in the first quarter. The rest of its company-operated European store estate – comprising four stores in Ireland and 11 in Italy – remained flat in that period.

On 6 February, Gap Inc reported net sales for the fourth quarter were up 1% year on year to $4.43bn (£3.58bn). However, comparable sales of the Gap brand were flat on last year.

“Against a challenging retail backdrop, we’re pleased to report growth in our top line and comp [like-for-like] sales during the critical holiday quarter,” said Gap Inc chief executive Art Peck. “We remain focused on actions that will strengthen our brands and recapture market share.”

Last month, it was revealed that Andi Owen, global brand president of Banana Republic, will leave the company in late February. Peck will directly oversee the brand while a replacement is sought.

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