Gap has what it takes to win again. With strong brand awareness and a large, active customer base, we are focusing on harnessing the power of Gap brand in asset-light ways. Going forward, we will look to transform our business model through partnerships that grow and amplify our global reach.
Today, we shared with our team that we are starting a strategic review of options for our Gap business in Europe. One of the options being explored is the possible closure of our company-operated Gap stores in the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Italy at the end of the second quarter in 2021. In addition, we are reviewing our warehouse and distribution model and our Gap and Banana Republic company-owned e-commerce operations in Europe. A possible outcome is the closure of our EU distribution center in Rugby.
As we conduct the review, we will look at transferring elements of the business to interested third parties as part of a proposed partnership model expansion. Franchise partnerships are a strong and cost-effective way to amplify the brand. Through franchise, Gap brand reaches customers in 35 countries with more than 400 stores and 14 e-commerce sites.
We are committed to sharing more as we thoughtfully work through this process. While the work is tough, we have our eyes set on leveraging our brand power to deliver Modern American Optimism to customers around the world.
To the teams that support our European business, I want to thank you for your understanding as we go through this process and express my appreciation on behalf of the entire leadership team.
Head of Gap Brand Global