US fashion giant Gap has confirmed it plans to close all its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland and go online-only.
The firm said it would close all its stores “in a phased manner” between the end of August and the end of September.
This includes 19 stores that were already scheduled to close in July as their leases were expiring.
The company has not disclosed how many employees the closures will affect, but will shortly start a consultation process with the staff.
The firm said it was “not exiting the UK market” and would continue to offer a web-based store when all the shops had closed.
A Gap spokesperson said the decision followed a strategic review of its European business.
As a result, Gap is also looking to offload its stores in France and Italy.
Gap was a big hit when it first opened in the UK back in 1987, famous for its hoodies and sweatshirts. But in recent years, it has struggled to stay relevant, resorting to prolific discounting to pull shoppers in. That left Gap in a weak position to withstand the turmoil of a global pandemic.
It launched a strategic review of its entire European operations last autumn, warning that it was considering closing all its UK stores. Just a few weeks ago, 19 store closures were announced – now the rest of them will close as well