Gap has confirmed plans to bring a direct ecommerce offer for both its eponymous fascia and Banana Republic to the UK later this year.

The online shopping site in the UK will also serve nine other European countries. Gap currently sells online in trhe UK through fashion site Asos.

The US fashion giant has also revealed plans to open Gap and Banana Republic in Italy for the first time.

It will open a Banana Republic and Gap store side-by-side in Milan’s popular shopping area Corso Vittorio Emanuele this year and will next year roll out to other Italian cities including Rome.

President of Europe and International Franchise at Gap Stephen Sunnucks said: “As we continue to expand our global presence and deliver our customers great product, we are excited to enter another market that’s also one of the top five apparel markets in the world,”

He added: “With loyal shoppers already in London and Paris, we think Gap Inc.’s brands will strongly resonate with Italian customers.”

Each of the stores will be wholly owned and operated by Gap. The Gap flagship store in Milan will be 25,500 sq ft set over three floors.

Gap reported that its net earnings for the fourth quarter 2009 shot up 45% to $352m (£231m), compared with $243m (£159m) in the fourth quarter 2008. The company said the rise was driven by strategy change at its Old Navy stores.

The group’s like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks to January 30, 2010, were up 2%. However its international like-for-like sales for stores outside the US were down 2% to $514m (£337m). Its total sales rose 4% to $4.24bn (£2.78bn).

Gap’s chairman and chief executive Glenn Murphy said: “Led largely by our progress at Old Navy, we ended 2009 with a much-improved economic model and strong balance sheet.”

He added: “We’re now ready for our business to grow and move forward, as we aim to gain market share in North America and make a series of investments to bring our well-known brands to more customers around the world.”