The NTI newsroom reported back in February that Gap were pondering moving out of the UK retail market to teach their landlords a lesson. At the time we discovered that landlords of 19 of their stores were taking a ridiculous stance and demanding rent in accordance with their respective leases.
It seems that no-one outside the Gap boardroom has any clue what the retailer will do with their high street presence and rumours persist that they will be on the plane back to the States with Joe Biden once he leaves Cornwall, having torn our Boris off a strip for not respecting Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement. In the meantime Gap have had cake delivered to that boardroom and it is suspected they both want to have it and eat it.
In the meantime Gap, who have 50 stores throughout the length and breadth of these Isles, announced today (Thursday 10 June) that the aforementioned 19 stores will be closing, as their leases have expired.
We are asking questions about the fashion lines and general relevance of Gap in an ever more competitive fashion retail market. Whereas rivals such as Next, Boohoo, ASOS and the little independent down Michelle’s road have taken the Covid market by the horns, ridden it hard and put it away wet, Gap have faltered. Its UK business reported a 9.5 per cent fall in shop sales to £195.1 million and operating losses of £40.7 million in the year to February 1, 2020.
Meanwhile, the former Debenhams store in Edinburgh is to re-emerge in around 2024 as a boutique hotel (although we hope there will be more toilets that just on the second and fourth floors). The £50 million proposal is for the 108,000sq ft of vacant retail space to be redeveloped into a 207-room boutique hotel, restaurant, lounge, spa and rooftop bar. Ooo, classy.
And for those of you who are suffering cold turkey without your daily fix of Debenhams news, the Danish department store fascia owned by Debenhams has been sold to a new owners in an undisclosed deal. Department Store Realisations Limited, formerly trading as Debenhams, today confirmed that it has agreed the sale of Magasin du Nord to Peek & Cloppenburg.
All aboard the changing face of high street retail.