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Gap Ramps Up Expansion in Greater China

Gap is reaping the benefits of China’s dynamic retail economy. The company announced Thursday that as of mid-October, less than four years after the first Gap store debuted in Shanghai and Beijing, it has surpassed 100 Gap branded stores across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The total includes Gap and Gap Outlet stores in 25 cities.

Up next, Gap said it would begin to expand Old Navy’s footprint faster than originally planned in mainland China, starting with locations in southern and northern China. The first Old Navy outside of the Shanghai and Jiangsu province region is set to open on Nov. 8 in the special economic zone of Shenzhen. Another Old Navy will open in Beijing in December, bringing the total count of Old Navy stores to seven across five cities in less than one year. The company also revealed that its plans for expansion in Taiwan have accelerated with the first Gap outside Taipei opening in Hsinchu later this month.

Jeff Kirwan, Gap’s president of greater China, said, “We continue to be excited by the response of Chinese customers to our brands. Both Gap and Old Navy have been warmly embraced, giving us confidence to continue our expansion in this vibrant region.”

That positive response from Chinese consumers extends to Gap’s online efforts, which includes dedicated e-commerce sites and a storefront on Tmall. In particular, Gap has found success merging its digital and physical channels. The retailer has been experimenting with virtual wall technology to expand its product offerings to shoppers in current stores, and with pop-up shops that have been put in place to introduce the Gap brand to new consumers.

“We want to lead the way in bringing omnichannel to life in China,” Kirwan said. “It’s early days yet, but with the addition of virtual experiences both in our Gap stores and in other non-traditional locations, we hope to offer more points of access to our Chinese customer so she can shop our brands wherever, whenever and however she wants.”