Major news for a major Bay Area employer today as Gap, Inc. announced that it would be shuttering a swath of its stores across the U.S., and laying off a segment of its local workforce. As the Business Times reports, the move comes as the company has seen a decline of $300 million in annual sales for the Gap brand, which has led to the need to close 26 percent of its U.S. locations, or about 175 stores, and lay off 250 people both from its SF and NY offices, and from field leadership positions nationwide.*
This will still leave the company with 800 Gap stores in North America, and they say that no Gap Outlet or factory stores will be closed.
Gap Global President Jeff Kirwan issued a statement saying, "These decisions are very difficult, knowing they will affect a number of our valued employees, but we are confident they are necessary to help create a winning future for our employees, our customers and our shareholders."
Business Insider discussed in April the disparity between Gap's decline in sales, and the roaring success of their discount brand Old Navy, noting that it points to the idea that "Americans seem more concerned with saving money than being cool." Gap was always positioned as a trendy place for buying clothing basics, but in recent months Gap has seen its sales in a steep decline year over year, with sales down 7 percent in March, over last year, and down 14 percent over the same period in 2013. And Gap's sales numbers have reportedly been in decline for at least the last five years.
Meanwhile, upscale brand Banana Republic is doing less poorly, but also saw a 3 percent decline. And Old Navy saw a 14 percent bump year over year.
Gap is the Bay Area's seventh largest employer.
* This post has been corrected per a statement from Gap to clarify that "The headquarter role eliminations are primarily in Gap’s North America offices, including places like New York and San Francisco, but also across its Upper Field Leadership, which are based across the country."