Apparel giant Gap has secured deals to take its Gap and Banana Republic brands to two key South East Asian markets as part of its previously announced strategy for international growth.

A Gap subsidiary has signed agreements with wholly owned subsidiaries of F J Benjamin Holdings, under which Benjamin will hold exclusive rights to operate Gap and Banana Republic branded apparel and accessories stores in Singapore and to distribute Gap and Banana Republic products in Malaysia.

The announcement marks a step forward with Gap's plan to expand the Gap and Banana Republic brands through international franchises.

Gap International president Andrew Rolfe said: "We are bringing Gap and Banana Republic to more customers throughout the world.
"Singapore is a shopping destination for Southeast Asia and Malaysia is one of the fastest-growing markets with shopping malls."

Rolfe added:""F J Benjamin has significant expertise in this market and we're delighted to enter this collaboration with them to bring Gap's fresh, casual, American style and Banana Republic's affordable luxury to fashion-savvy customers."

Benjamin chairman and chief executive Frank Benjamin commented: "We are excited to be working with Gap. Gap and Banana Republic are global fashion icons and we intend to aggressively launch and grow these brands in Singapore and Malaysia."

F J Benjamin plans to open about 30 stores in Singapore and Malaysia by 2010, opening the first Gap store in the autumn of 2006 and the first Banana Republic store in 2007.

Benjamin will purchase merchandise from Gap or suppliers designated by the group and must adhere to Gap's quality standards to preserve the reputation of the Gap and Banana Republic brands.

F J Benjamin Holdings specialises in building retail and distribution networks for international fashion and lifestyle brands in Asia. Its portfolio encompasses brands such as Valentino, Guess?, La Senza and Raoul.

Gap is a leading international specialty retailer offering clothing, accessories and personal care products for men, women, children and babies under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Forth & Towne brand names.