We believe in the power of partnering to amplify our brand internationally and we are committed to serving our Gap customers in Europe.
As part of our 2023 Power Plan, Gap began a strategic review of the company-operated business in Europe last year with the goal of finding new, more cost-effective ways to maintain a presence and serve customers in Europe. We conducted an extensive evaluation of potential partners for our Gap business in France, Italy, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. During this process, it became clear that we would likely have a different outcome in each market.
We are pleased to share that we have identified a potential partner for France. The company is in negotiations with Hermione People and Brands, the retail branch of FIB Group, to take over Gap stores in France.
In Italy, we are in discussions with a partner for the potential acquisition of our Gap stores and look forward to sharing more information when it is available.
In the United Kingdom and Europe, we are going to maintain our Gap online business. The e-commerce business continues to grow and we want to meet our customers where they are shopping. We’re becoming a digital first business and we’re looking for a partner to help drive our online business.
However, due to market dynamics in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, we shared with our team today that we are proposing to close all company-operated Gap Specialty and Gap Outlet stores in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland in a phased manner from the end of August through the end of September 2021. We are thoughtfully moving through the consultation process with our European team, and we will provide support and transition assistance for our colleagues as we look to wind down stores.
Gap has served customers in the United Kingdom since 1987 and the Republic of Ireland since 2006. We are keen to maintain our presence in these markets.
Gap brings Modern American style to customers in more than 40 countries around the world through a combination of company-operated and franchise stores and e-commerce sites. Franchise partnerships are a strong and cost-effective way to amplify the brand in international markets. Through franchise, Gap brand reaches customers in 35 countries with more than 460 stores, 14 standalone e-commerce sites and more than 160 multi-channel or pureplay e-commerce sites.