Blog: Leonie BarrieVying for the top retail slot

Leonie Barrie | 26 March 2009

Could there soon be a new contender for the crown of “the world’s largest independent specialty clothing retailer by revenue”? Currently held by Gap Inc, which recently posted annual revenues of $14.5bn, yesterday’s results from Inditex suggest it’s catching up fast.

In the 12 months to 31 January, the Spanish fashion giant behind the phenomenally successful Zara chain said its sales were EUR10.41bn (US$14.1bn). But while Gap’s sales for the year fell by 8%, Inditex’s were up 10%.

If this trend continues, it won’t be long before the two trajectories cross.

The signs are that this could be imminent. Gap has been hit by falls in comparable store sales in all its North American retail divisions, including Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, as well as in its international businesses.

And it plans to restrict capital spending in 2009, as well as closing about 100 under-performing Gap stores and opening just 50 new ones.

Inditex, meanwhile, says it plans to accelerate its international expansion in 2009, with up to 450 planned store openings during the year. And crucially, it is resisting widespread discounting and expects to continue to out-perform the rest of the industry.



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