Gap Inc's Athleta athletic wear brand, which until now has has been a catalogue and online business, has opened its first full-scale retail store in San Francisco.

The 5,000 square foot flagship sells Athleta's line of women's active lifestyle apparel for yoga, running, swim, gym, hiking and skiing, as well as other products for both athletic and everyday pursuits.

"This store opening launches the next phase of our multi-channel growth plan for the Athleta brand," explains Toby Lenk, president of Gap Inc Direct, the division which houses Athleta.

"What began as a catalogue business 12 years ago, evolved into a successful online channel, and today marks another milestone for the Athleta brand."

Gap Inc bought Athleta back in September 2008 for $150m in order to secure a foothold in the growing $31bn women's active apparel sector in the US.