Gap will launch a transactional web site in the UK as it seeks to bolster its European business despite axing its London-based European design team.

A Gap Europe spokeswoman said: “We are refocusing on Europe now and will be launching more Gap and Banana Republic shops in new markets here. There are no plans for new UK stores, but we are looking at a transactional web site.”

Sales at Gap’s US direct division have almost doubled from US$595 million (£313.1 million) in 2005 to US$903 million (£575.2 million) last year.

The retailer hopes to replicate its online success in the UK and on the continent, where store sales have been falling.

US-based Gap’s international like-for-like store sales fell 6 per cent in the 13 weeks to August 2, when total group sales slid 5 per cent to US$3.5 billion (£1.8 billion). The retailer attributed its decision to slash 80 jobs in its European design team to increased demand for American-style fashions in Europe.

This week, Spanish fashion giant Inditex overtook Gap as the world’s largest fashion retailer by sales.