Gap opens online store on China's Taobao Mall

Mar 30 - U.S. apparel brand Gap Inc opened an online store on China's biggest e-commerce platform Taobao on Wednesday, in an effort to lure savvy Chinese shoppers outside wealthy cities.

Gap Inc., Taobao
Gap's online store (gap.tmall.com) on Taobao Mall, China’s largest retail website

E-commerce has boomed in China over the past two years as traditional retail distribution networks remain fragmented.

Gap opened its store on Taobao Mall, alongside the likes of Adidas AG, Levi Strauss & Co and Japan's Uniqlo, Taobao said in a statement. Taobao, a unit of Alibaba Group that is 40 percent owned by Yahoo Inc, commands more than 70 percent of all online e-commerce transactions by gross merchandise volume.

Taobao said in a statement that an average of 864 pieces of clothing were sold every minute on the website in 2010.

"Given China is the cornerstone of Gap Inc's global growth strategy, we believe that partnering with Taobao, with its phenomenal reach all throughout the country, is an important next step," John Ermatinger, president of Gap's Asia Pacific region said in a statement.

Gap opened four stores and an online store (www.gap.cn) in China late last year. Gap runs its namesake brand as well as Old Navy and Banana Republic.

The firm had said it will focus on boosting international growth in a bid to counter sagging fortunes back home.

(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

© Thomson Reuters 2014 All rights reserved.