U.S. clothing retailer Gap Inc will open its first standalone franchise store in South Africa this week, it said on Monday, the second major apparel merchant to enter the sub-Saharan African country in less than six months. ”South African is the natural next step for expanding our store footprint on the continent,” said Stefan Laban, Gap’s managing director of strategic alliances.
The company first offered its namesake brand and Banana Republic in South Africa through a wholesale agreement with domestic department store group Stuttafords. Stuttafords would operate Gap’s free-standing stores in the country, the two companies said in a joint statement.
Gap, which plans to open two more stores in Africa’s top apparel retail market, follows Europe’s biggest clothing retailer Zara, which entered the country with one store in November last year. The expansion of Gap and Zara, the flagship label of Spain’s Inditex, in Africa pit them against established retailers such Truworths International, The Foschni Group and Woolworths. The San Fransisco-based company already has stores on the continent where consumer spending is expected to double to $1.4 trillion by 2020. Gap entered Morocco and Egypt late last year.
Africa’s strong consumption prospects were highlighted in 2010 when Wal-Mart bid $2.4 billion for control of South African retailer Massmart.
I find it exciting to see these international brands making their way to Africa, my only concerns is their pricing, why are these foreigners allowed to continue ripping Africans off? Following on from my research, I found out that the Prices are two to three times higher than in the US — for example, 1,000 rand ($130) for a pair of jeans, or 300 rand ($40) for a plain T-shirt. And so far, there is no sales rack offering discounts. This is not the affordable Gap that American shoppers expect. My second concern is the threat it will have on African designers, am I panicking for no reasons? Since some Africans have the biggest traits for all things foreign and some African designers have not managed to priced their goods well. Share your thoughts below!