US specialty clothing retailer Gap Inc is to launch its Athleta brand in Canada later this year as part of its bid to grow the label to US$2bn in net sales by 2023.
The move also marks the performance lifestyle brand’s first company-owned expansion outside the United States.
Athleta plans to launch e-commerce late this summer with product fulfilled by the Gap Inc distribution centre in Brampton, Ontario, eliminating international taxes and lengthy shipping times for Canadian consumers.
The e-commerce rollout will be followed by the opening of retail stores at Yorkdale Shopping Center in North York, Ontario, and Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver, British Columbia, this autumn.
Athleta plans to open between 20 and 30 stores a year, adding to its existing profitable fleet of more than 200 stores across the US. The brand says its stores remain top customer acquisition and brand awareness vehicles and are a key component of its growth and future.
It adds new entry points, including wholesale partnerships and international expansion through franchise and company-operated stores, are strategic steps towards its $2bn net sales goal. In 2020, Athleta surpassed the $1bn sales mark and had 16% annual sales growth.
As a customer-led brand, Athleta has conducted extensive research to understand the behaviours of Canadian consumers with findings supporting customer demand for a purpose-driven performance lifestyle brand.
“Athleta’s differentiated brand focus on wellness, sustainability and inclusivity coupled with versatile product will resonate across geographies into the Canadian market,” it says.
Last month, Gap Inc struck a deal to sell its Janie and Jack business to brand investment platform Go Global Retail as part of its bid to focus on its billion-dollar Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta labels.