Retail group Gap Inc. said Thursday it would shutter 75 stores this year amid sagging sales, including 53 of its kids-focused Old Navy brand outlets in Japan.
Announcing a fall in first quarter earnings, the San Francisco-based retailer also warned that its might not achieve previous earnings forecasts for this year given the headwinds buffeting the apparel industry.
"Old Navy will strategically shift its focus to markets most favorable to the brand's growth," the company said, explaining the Japan closings.
It pointed to the US and Mexican markets as well as China as its focus for Old navy, its lowest-priced brand.
But it said that Japan "remains an important market" with the continued presence of more than 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores.
The closings, aimed at cutting overall costs, will also include Banana Republic outlets, most of them in international markets, though the locations were not detailed.
Like many of its competitors, the company has been hit by shifting tastes and slower consumer spending worldwide, as well as competition from online fashion retailers.
"As the pace of change across the apparel industry increases, now is the time to accelerate our transformation by scaling our product and operating capabilities across our global portfolio," said chief executive Art Peck.
"By taking every opportunity to exploit our strategic advantages, our brands will be able to more fully harness the power of the enterprise to better serve their customers across channels and geographies."
Gap Inc. global net sales at $3.44 billion were down 6.0 percent in the first quarter, ended April 30, from a year ago. Sales were off in every region except Asia, where they registered a slight gain. Sales in the United States, 77 percent of the total, were also down 6.0 percent.
Net income came in at $127 million, down 47 percent from a year ago, for 32 cents per share, in line with what the company forecast in a revision early this month.
That helped boost its share price 2.7 percent in after-hours trade to $17.28.
Shares though remained well below the high this year just over $30 a share in March.