One of the less appealing aspects of 21st century retail is the takeover of online shopping and the slow, bedraggled death of many shopping malls across the U.S.
That is, if you’re a mall retailer.
One such company that has been hit harder than many is The Gap (GPS) , which has undergone quite a few transformations in the last several years.
It’s been a bumpy ride for the retailer, which owns several well-known brands such as Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta. In 2019, it was widely reported that The Gap would be spinning off Old Navy in an effort to stave off dwindling sales. But the divide-and-conquer model was quickly called off after less than a year, when management reversed the spin off deal.
“The cost and complexity of splitting into two companies, combined with softer business performance, limited our ability to create appropriate value from separation,” interim CEO Robert Fisher said at the time.
The 2020s haven’t been markedly kinder to The Gap. The company announced it would close its stores in the U.K. and Ireland in 2021. And it announced plans to shutter dozens of stores in 2023, including over 300 Banana Republic stores by the end of the year.
Unlike its more casual sister Athleta, Banana Republic has fared particularly poorly in the 2020s as more folks work from home and have less of a need for professional and business casual attire. It’s been a drag on the balance sheet for years now, and management has needed to get creative to formulate some kind of rescue plan.
Miami, Dadeland Mall, Banana Republic. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Banana Republic stages an expansion
The brand had previously waded into other categories in an attempt to stave the bleeding and reinvigorate excitement for the label. One such way was via a new home decor line following Sandra Stangl’s appointment as Banana Republic CEO.
Stangl had previous experience at both Williams Sonoma and RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware) and helped Banana Republic launch new items, such as fabrics, couches, loungers, tables, carpets, lamps, and other decor. Its sofas retail for mostly above $3,000 and present an airy, comfortable, upscale appeal similar to one you might find at RH.
But not everybody has a need for the $12,495 Menorca U-Shaped Sectional, and analysts began to speculate that Banana Republic would shut down its BR Home division.
That is, until the company firmly denied any such reports in February.
“Banana Republic Home is not being discontinued. In fact there is more product coming,” a spokesperson said.
The exact date of the forthcoming launch is not yet clear, though the company is expected to release several additional home decor items and staples, including bedding, dining and bath or personal care products.
Banana Republic did have a brief foray into the personal care and hygiene products in the 1990s. Some stores still sell perfume and personal fragrances, however the products are only available online and a new product has not been released since 2022.
TheStreet has reached out to Banana Republic for comment.