US retailer Gap confident about North African market

Despite the recent political turmoil experienced in North Africa, US-based clothing retailer Gap Inc. last week announced that it will enter the continent by opening stores in Egypt and Morocco.

“The rapidly growing consumer base in North Africa provides an ideal environment to introduce both Gap and Banana Republic to the continent,” commented Stephen Sunnucks, president of Gap Inc.’s International division.

In 2010, Gap Inc. first introduced its brands to the continent by offering products in Egypt, Morocco and South Africa through its international online shipping provider. The new stores will be franchise outlets selling the Gap, GapKids and babyGap collections as well as Banana Republic’s luxury clothes. Gap Inc. owns the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, and Athleta brands.

In Egypt, Gap Inc. has a franchise agreement with The Fawaz Al Hokair Group. The first outlet will open in July at the Mall of Arabia in Cairo. Two additional stores are also expected to open in the Egyptian capital’s City Stars Mall and Sun City Mall later in the year.

Gap Inc. said in a statement that Egypt is an attractive market due to its fast growing consumer base and its position as a gateway into the rest of the continent.

In Morocco, an agreement has been signed with the Aksal Group to open Gap and Banana Republic stores in Casablanca. “Casablanca is the premier shopping destination in North Africa. Morocco’s booming retail market and increasing urban population provide Gap Inc. with a terrific opportunity,” noted the company.

Earlier in the year Zin Bekkali, CEO of Silk Invest, wrote in an article published on How we made it in Africa that the unrest in Egypt “did not change the fundamentals of its companies nor has it altered the opportunities that its economy holds”.