Gap Inc said Banana Republic and Athleta will start selling within the UK and Republic of Ireland through the joint venture formed with Next in 2021 to grow the Gap Inc business in the UK.

Banana Republic is available to shop on while Athleta, the premium performance ad lifestyle brand, will be shoppable in early 2023.

“I am excited to embark on the latest part of our Joint Venture journey, with the re-introduction of two amazing brands to the market through the platform,” commented Jon Jeffery, managing director of JV. “Both Banana Republic and Athleta are truly aspirational Gap Inc. brands, who individually offer a unique perspective and a strong design aesthetic that allows us to engage and delight new audiences and further expand our portfolio within the UK & Ireland.”

In August it was announced Next would open another five Gap-branded shop-in-shops as part of the next phase of its joint venture with Gap Inc.

Gap Inc said its UK e-commerce business has been fully migrated to UK High Street giant Next’s Total Platform.

Gap consumers will benefit from Next’s extensive customer service options, ensuring an elevated experience with benefits including a comprehensive click-and-collect service, free returns to 450 Next stores within the UK, next-day home delivery for GBP4.50 and free next-day delivery to either brand’s stores. 

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It makes sense that Next is extending its joint venture with Gap to its sister brands, excluding Old Navy as it would be a close competitor for Next’s own brand products, as it allows the brands to test their success in the UK without taking on the costs and risks of setting up their own website or store.

Boosting reputations

Emily Salter, retail analyst at GlobalData, told Just Style: “Athleta stands to do quite well due to the popularity of sportswear and athleisure in the UK, but with such a crowded market it must ensure it sets itself apart from more established competitors like NIKE, adidas and Sweaty Betty – especially as Next already has quite a wide range of sports brands on its site.

“Banana Republic faces a bumpier road, with its traditional focus on the smart casual and workwear market, so it must ensure it builds its reputation in the UK around a more versatile style to boost its popularity. Its premium prices will also be hard to justify for many shoppers, so it must focus on product quality and value for money. Next must promote these new brands on its homepage to boost brand awareness, as they will have fallen off consumers’ radars having been absent from the country for a number of years, as well as making sure the products don’t get lost in Next’s huge product range.”