Apparel retailer Gap has entered the Chinese market with the opening of four wholly-owned stores in Shanghai and Beijing.

The shops will all house every Gap collection – Gap, GapKids, Baby Gap and Gap Body – and an online store for the Chinese market is also launching with immediate effect.

The company’s first flagship store in Shanghai opened today (11 November) in the Hong Kong Plaza on Mid Huaihai Road, one of the city’s leading shopping streets.

A second flagship store, on two floors of the Venture Tech building on Nanjing West Road, is due to open in the next several weeks.

In Beijing, two stores will open on Saturday, including one in the APM Building on Wanfujing Street, and another in Chaobei Joy City, in the eastern part of the city.

Gap said the openings were “a cornerstone” of the company’s global expansion strategy.

“Gap invested in extensive, multi-year market research and this entry marks the beginning of a long-term, multi-channel strategy that will eventually result in more stores throughout the country,” the company added.