Gap's Roman Holiday: Italian Store Launch Builds on Global Push

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GapGap is bound for the Eternal City.

As part of a larger push to bring its classic American design aesthetic to international markets -- and build on its recent Italian successes -- Gap will debut a flagship store in Rome on Via del Corso, a key shopping area, on Saturday.

The country has been a bright spot for the retailer, which has seen its stateside business struggle of late. It opened its first Gap and Banana Republic stores in Milan last year, and they ended up becoming the retailer's top-performing international stores.

The retailer currently boasts 190 company-owned stores overseas in the U.K., Ireland, France and Italy, as well as 180 franchise stores in 25 countries in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Australia.

The two-story, 14,111 square-foot Rome flagship store reflects Gap's efforts to meld the local character of the community with Gap's iconic look and feel.

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To that end, the store, which was most recently a bookstore, will include a book corner with an assortment of art and style books.

And a number of the building's original features have been preserved, including a 1940s mural by Giulio Russo depicting men on a scaffold wearing T-shirts and denim, which happens to reflect Gap's clothing heritage.

The store also infuses Gap's American architectural design with a local twist by incorporating marble and warm-toned woods. But the product mix will be decidedly Gap, including Gap adult, GapKids, babyGap and GapBody merchandise.

The Rome store marks the retailer's bid to stake a claim in one of the biggest global tourist destinations.

But perhaps more importantly, it's part of Gap's plan to build a "global runway" with the expansion of not only flagship stores, but outlet stores overseas -- all while it shrinks the business stateside, Glenn Murphy, chief executive officer, said during The Piper Jaffray Consumer Conference in New York last month.

The retailer recently expanded into Canada and Japan, and it's also eying China for growth.





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