Clothing retailer Gap Inc is expanding in Latin America, opening its first stores in Panama and launching the brand in Colombia, Uruguay and Peru.

In Panama, the company has opened Gap and Banana Republic stores through a franchise agreement with Superior Retail. The stores will use the US collections, but be customised seasonally to suit local customers.

"With a high rate of tourism and a rapidly growing demand for international retail brands, Panamá provides an ideal environment in which to introduce Gap and Banana Republic," said Stefan Laban, managing director of strategic alliances for Gap Inc.

"At the crossroads of the Americas - serving as a bridge for business and travel between North, South, and Central America - Panamá also represents an important gateway for the future expansion of our brands in the region."

The company will open two further Gap and one Banana Republic store with Superior Retail. It also plans to open stores in Colombia in Bogota and Medellin later this year.

Gap will expand its presence in Chile during 2012, with its first Banana Republic store in the summer and two more Gap stores later this year, through an existing agreement with Komax.

It has also signed a new deal with a subsidiary of Neutral to bring Gap to Uruguay in 2012, and a subsidiary of Komax to take Gap to Peru in 2013.

"Latin America hosts some of the fastest growing retail markets in the world with extremely high brand recognition for both Gap and Banana Republic," said Laban.

"This, combined with the tremendous response to the launch of Gap in Chile, makes us confident there is significant opportunity for our brands in Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay, as well as other countries in the region."