Gap hopes to fill the gaps

By Bao Chang (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-06-24 10:42
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Gap hopes to fill the gaps

The Gap Inc logo is displayed outside a store in New York. The company's first China store is to be opened in Beijing's Joy City shopping mall. [Agencies]

BEIJING - Gap Inc, a global apparel retailer, plans to enter the Chinese market soon, by opening four outlets within this year.

The company, which spent two years on market research before entering China, plans to open two outlets in Beijing and two in Shanghai.

"Gap will wholly own our Chinese stores because Gap attaches great importance to business in China, the third largest apparel market in the world," said Redmond Yeung, president of Gap in China.

Gap plans to mainly focus on first-tier cities during the first year, where brand recognition is high.

The first Gap store in China will be located in Beijing's Joy City shopping mall, owned by COFCO Commercial Property Investment Co. The two sides signed an agreement on June 3 and the store will be open by year's end.

According to Yeung, the first four Gap stores will feature a full range of Gap's lines including Gap adult, GapKids and babyGap.

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The retailer plans to focus more on GapKids and babyGap products because of the traditional Chinese emphasis on the family.

As part of its multi-channel entry strategy, Gap Inc has partnered with Shanghai Yi Shang Network Information Co Ltd, an e-commerce company delivering online retail products in China. The online shopping site will let consumers throughout the country shop for Gap products.

Gap is a relative latecomer to China, compared with competitors like Zara and Hennes & Mauritz (H&M).

Zara, a Spanish apparel retailer, entered China in 2006 and has opened 34 stores to date. Swedish apparel chain H&M entered the country in 2007 and had 27 stores as of last year.

While, Yeung of Gap said: "It is never too late to enter the Chinese market where there is great business opportunities for apparel industry as our targeted customers like middle class are growing at a steady rate."