Johannesburg - US clothing retailer Gap will open its first
standalone franchise store in South Africa this week, it said on Monday, the
second major apparel merchant to enter the country in less than six months.
"South African is the natural next step for expanding
our store footprint on the continent," said Stefan Laban, Gap's managing
director of strategic alliances.
The company first offered its namesake brand and Banana
Republic in South Africa through a wholesale agreement with domestic department
store group Stuttafords.
Stuttafords would operate Gap's free-standing stores in the
country, the two companies said in a joint statement.
Gap, which plans to open two more stores in Africa's top
apparel retail market, follows Europe's biggest clothing retailer Zara, which
entered the country with one store in November last year.
The expansion of Gap and Zara - the flagship label of
Spain's Inditex - in Africa pit them against established retailers such
Truworths International [JSE:TRU], the Foschni Group and Woolworths
The San Fransisco-based company already has stores on the
continent where consumer spending is expected to double to $1.4 trillion by
2020. Gap entered Morocco and Egypt late last year.
Africa's strong consumption prospects were highlighted in
2010 when Walmart bid $2.4bn for control of South African retailer Massmart