Gap Eyes Latin American Expansion

Gap Inc. (GPS), operator of the largest U.S. apparel chain, plans to expand in Latin America after its first namesake store in the region topped sales expectations.

The Gap store in Santiago, which opened in October, was among the leading franchise performers out of 200 stores worldwide, said Stefan Laban, managing director of strategic alliances for Gap. The San Francisco-based company opened Gap and Banana Republic stores in Panama and will expand to Colombia, Uruguay and Peru, it said in a statement today. The company will probably expand to Brazil as well, Laban said.

“We’re kind of making our way around Brazil,” Laban said in an interview yesterday in Panama City. “Awareness is really high in Latin America. As everyone travels through Miami, they all know the brand.”

Gap is turning to global expansion to improve profit, which declined 40 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago, the retailer said on Feb. 23. International sales could drive 30 percent of income next year as the company opens stores throughout Asia and Latin America, Laban said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Sabo in Panama City at esabo1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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