Traveling in Israel next year and worried you'll have a casual wardrobe crisis?
Have no fear! Announced just today, the Gap - and it's higher end sub-division, Banana Republic - are slated to open in the Holy Land in the Fall. Here's the report from JTA:
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Gap Inc. has signed an agreement to bring its Gap and Banana Republic stores to Israel.
The corporation announced Monday that it had inked a franchise agreement with Israel's Elbit Trade & Retail Ltd.
The first Gap store in Israel is scheduled to open in the fall. The first Banana Republic store is slated for the spring of 2010.
Gap Inc. also has signed agreements to open stores in Egypt and Jordan. Stores already are located in Middle East countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
But will Israeli's buy it? Here's a fun little article written up last week on TradingMarkets.com which might answer the question. The interview is with Arik Ben-Zino, CEO of Elbit Trade & Retail. He of course thinks this thing will fly with the average Israeli consumer.
Elbit Trade and Retail Ltd. CEO Arik Ben-Zino is relaxed, as the man behind the signing of the exclusive franchise agreement with Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS). He is also CEO of the Mango fashion retail chain, and he thinks he got a good deal. He is unconcerned that Gap suffers from fading sex appeal, boring fashion sense, and plummeting sales, including a 7.4 percent drop in revenue in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the corresponding quarter of 2008.
In an exclusive interview with "Globes" monthly magazine "Firma", Ben-Zino said, "Are Gap Kids and Baby Gap in decline. No." To explain his marketing rationale, he adds, "70 percent of the clothes in closets of most Israelis are basic brands. When we created focus groups, we found that the concept of basic was deep-rooted, so we thought that a brand that is entirely basic, basic American clothing, would have a bid advantage and be real news. It's possible to find different basic items in all kinds of stores, but as a concentrated general experience -- there is no such thing in Israel."
Ben-Zino added, "We've been in the market long enough to understand this power. On this playing field, we're quite alone with the concept. The brand itself is the largest in terms of numbers in the retail sector in the world. The brand is upgrading. We can choose from an immense collection. If it's possible to fill a 5,000-square meter store in the US, I can fill a 600-square meter store in Israel. Besides, we think that the Israeli market has a very special connection to this brand; a strong emotional connection. It's our job not to ruin that."
Elbit Trade is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Imaging Ltd. (Nasdaq: EMITF; TASE: EMIT), which owns the malls where Gap stores will open.
Well, at least the logo should be pretty concise in Hebrew: Gimmel, Peh. What do you think?