Gap plots strategic brand programme with major UK pitch

Gap UK is planning a major brand positioning project in the UK and is understood to have appointed brand strategy consultancy Eat Big Fish.

The US retail giant held pitch meetings for the work last month, seeing a selection of leading branding consultancies. The pitch included Wolff Olins, Landor Associates and Prophet, with Gap opting for the smaller outfit Eat Big Fish.

Gap UK declined to comment on the appointment, although Eat Big Fish commercial director Teresa Murphy confirmed that the group is ‘talking’ to Gap about a project. She would not reveal any further details about the nature of the work.

The brand programme is understood to be strategic, rather than design-led, and will examine Gap’s positioning in the UK marketplace. Eat Big Fish’s consultancy approach is based on the notion of ‘challenger brands’ and has its foundations in research by founder Adam Morgan into companies that successfully shake up the market.

Internationally, Gap has committed to opening at least 50 stores across the UK, France and Japan over the next two years and plans to introduce a franchise operating model to these markets. The appointment in April of former New Look chief executive Stephen Sunnucks as European president will spearhead these initiatives.

The company is also developing its retail proposition in the US, having brought in London consultancy Conran & Partners last summer to devise a store design scheme. Elements of this project are now being rolled out in certain outlets, according to Conran & Partners interior and retail design director David Chaloner, who oversaw the project.

GAP Background:

• Head office in San Francisco, US

• More than 3000 stores worldwide in the US, UK, Canada, France and Japan

• Owns clothing brands Banana Republic, Old Navy and yet-to-be-launched Forth & Towne

• Reported total net sales of $1.2bn (£664m) for the first quarter of 2005, down 1 per cent year-on-year; stores outside the US saw sales fall 6 per cent in first quarter

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