URUGUAY. Gap Inc, in partnership with leading travel retailer Neutral Duty Free, has opened its first stand-alone store in Uruguay.

Located within Punta Carretas Shopping Center in Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, the 700sq m outlet is also the first store to open in Mercosur, Neutral Duty Free CEO Enrique Urioste told The Moodie Report.

The opening ceremony, which took place on 7 December, was officiated by Urioste, Gap and Banana Republic Director of Operations for Latin America Mike Bacco, Punta Carretas Shopping Center Managing Director Mario Garbadino, and Julissa Reynoso, the US ambassador to Uruguay.

The Gap opening ceremony was attended by (L-R) Gap and Banana Republic Director of Operations for Latin America Mike Bacco; the US ambassador to Uruguay, Julissa Reynoso; Neutral Duty Free CEO Enrique Urioste; and Punta Carretas Shopping Center Managing Director Mario Garbadino
Neutral Duty Free CEO Enrique Urioste (top right, above centre) has big plans for Gap in 2013

“The opening represents a tidy milestone for our business,” wrote Gap Inc on its official blog, aDressed. The Montevideo store is franchise market number 40 for the clothing retailer, “a nice leap” from a few years ago, it added.

With Uruguay in the southern hemisphere – which Gap refers to as “˜reverse-seasonality’, meaning Uruguay’s summer is equivalent to the North American winter – the new Gap store launched with its fall collection of clothes.

Besides Montevideo, Neutral Duty Free has also opened two shop-in-shop outlets measuring 300sq m each at its stores in the Uruguayan cities of Chuy and Aceguá.

More Gap stores are in the pipeline next year, according to Urioste.

In March 2013, Neutral Duty Free will open a 300sq m shop-in-shop at each of its stores in Río Branco and Bella Unión. A 780sq m stand-alone store will open at Montevideo Shopping Mall in August, followed by a 700sq m store at Shopping del Sol in Asunción, the capital city of Paraguay.

The 700sq m Gap outlet, located within Punta Carretas Shopping Center in the capital city, Montevideo, is the first in Uruguay and Mercosur

These openings are part of Gap’s international growth strategy to further expand in Latin America. Leveraging its franchise model, the company has already opened stores in Chile, Panamá, Mexico, and Colombia, with plans to launch in Peru next year.

“Latin America hosts some of the fastest growing retail markets in the world with extremely high brand recognition for both Gap and Banana Republic,” said Stefan Laban, Managing Director of Strategic Alliances for Gap Inc.

“This, combined with the tremendous response to the launch of Gap and Banana Republic in Chile and Panamá, makes us confident there is significant opportunity for our brands in Uruguay, as well as other countries in the region.”

Neutral Duty Free has also opened a 300sq m shop-in-shop at its store in Chuy, Uruguay