Building on its ongoing mission to grab a bigger share of the $1.4 trillion global apparel market, Gap (GPS) will open its first stores in Vietnam and Guam through its franchise channel in the next few months.

This won't be the first time the retailer has done business in the Asia Pacific region. Gap made its products available in those countries last year online. The retailer is seeking to capitalize on Vietnam's growing economy, burgeoning upper-middle-class consumer base and young population, as well as Guam's robust tourism industry, which draws more than 1 million visitors annually.

Gap has signed a franchise agreement with Imex Pan Pacific, a Vietnamese conglomerate, to open its first two Gap stores in October in Ho Chi Minh City, that country's largest city, followed by additional locations in the capital, Hanoi, in 2012. Banana Republic stores will launch in 2012.

Building on an existing franchise agreement with Casual Clothing Specialist, Inc., which manages Gap locations in the Philippines, the retailer will open its first two Gap stores in Guam in January 2012.

The Gap stores will carry products from Gap, GapKids and babyGap, while Banana Republic will bring its take on affordable luxury apparel and accessories for women and men to the region.

As the Gap brand struggles stateside, and the company shutters many of its namesake stores in the U.S., Gap has added about 200 international franchise stores and expanded into 26 countries throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, Australia and Africa over the last five years. New Gap franchise stores are on tap for Chile, Serbia and Morocco in fiscal 2011.

The retailer has also been expanding globally with company-owned stores, such as a unit in Rome, which debuted in July. The retailer currently boasts nearly 200 company-owned stores overseas in countries such as the U.K., Ireland, France and Italy. It's also eying China for growth.




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