Gap and Banana Republic stores in Singapore to close by end-February

Gap has outlets at Suntec City and VivoCity.
Gap has outlets at Suntec City and VivoCity.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - American apparel brands Gap and Banana Republic will be closing their remaining stores in Singapore by the end of the month, when their franchise agreements with brand manager FJ Benjamin expire.

Banana Republic, which has stores at Paragon and Marina Bay Sands here, and Gap, which has outlets at Suntec City and VivoCity, announced their closing down sales on Facebook this week.

According to American media reports last September, parent company Gap Inc said it would be closing some 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores over three years and opening about 270 more Old Navy and Athleta stores over the same period as part of a shift in focus to its growing brands.

FJ Benjamin Group chief executive Nash Benjamin told The Business Times in an interview in October that it intended to discontinue the franchise business for the loss-making brands, and shutter its 20 Gap and Banana Republic stores in the region.

Singapore Polytechnic senior lecturer in marketing and retail Amos Tan said a lack of unique positioning coupled with increasing competition from fast fashion chains like Uniqlo are likely behind the demise of Gap and Banana Republic here.

While brands like Uniqlo are popular for their low prices and constant churn of new designs, Gap and Banana Republic "lack a clear identity; there's nothing unique about their style and their price point is neither low-end nor luxury", he said.

"It's not bad news for retail - FJ Benjamin is simply getting rid of brands in its portfolio that are not doing well. If Singaporeans don't want it and the sales prove it, kill it - there's no lack of brands."