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Gap is tapping the rising business demand for face masks News and analysis

SAN FRANCISCO, United States – Gap Inc., which introduced face masks in its stores and website earlier this year, now sells them directly to employers.

The owner of the Old Navy and Banana republic brands offers the masks in bulk, with New York City, California State and Kaiser Permanente among customers who have placed orders to date. Gap says the masks are high quality and fashionable.

It’s the San Francisco-based retailer’s latest move to tweak its business model amid the Covid-19 outbreak that has rocked the apparel market. It follows last month’s announcement that Gap is partnering with Kanye West to create a clothing line called Yeezy Gap in a multi-year partnership.

Gap says it has sold about 10 million of the non-medical face masks. The company requires at least 100,000 masks per order.

“When we thought about getting back to work, and how you would do it safely, it made so much sense,” said John Strain, Gap’s chief digital and technology officer.

While Strain declined to provide growth estimates for the program, noting that it is still in its early stages, the current order volume is “a good indication,” he said. “We are excited about the potential.”

Strain said he expects companies to return to a new dedicated website where the company can place repeat orders.

Like many in the retail industry, Gap is struggling to recover from the pandemic shutdowns that have reduced sales and changed consumer behavior. Gap’s net sales decreased last quarter and the eponymous brand fell by 50 percent. Sales were put to the test before the coronavirus outbreak.

By Jordyn Holman