Gap, Banana Republic to exit by end Feb

The Gap store at Suntec City yesterday. FJ Benjamin Group chief executive Nash Benjamin had said in an interview last October that it intended to discontinue the franchise business for its loss-making brands, and shut its 20 Gap and Banana Republic s
The Gap store at Suntec City yesterday. FJ Benjamin Group chief executive Nash Benjamin had said in an interview last October that it intended to discontinue the franchise business for its loss-making brands, and shut its 20 Gap and Banana Republic stores in the region.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

American clothing chains Gap and Banana Republic are to close their remaining stores in Singapore by the end of this month, when their franchise agreements with brand manager FJ Benjamin expire.

Banana Republic, which has stores at Paragon and Marina Bay Sands, and Gap, which has outlets at Suntec City and VivoCity, announced the move 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 last October that it intended to discontinue the franchise business for the loss-making brands, and shut its 20 Gap and Banana Republic stores in the region.

FJ Benjamin's other brands include luxury labels Marc Jacobs, Rebecca Minkoff and Givenchy, as well as high-street brands like Superdry and La Senza.

It could not respond to queries by press time.

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."

IT professional Andrew Tan, 36, occasionally shops at Banana Republic during sales. "Their quality is not bad, but I can find similar clothing at Zara or Massimo Dutti, so I won't really miss it," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2018, with the headline 'Gap, Banana Republic to exit by end Feb'. Print Edition | Subscribe