Gap has said its international arm, which includes the UK, will continue to be a key driver of the fashion giant’s growth despite a handful of store closures.

Gap chairman and chief executive Glenn Murphy acknowledged earlier this month that the retailer has too many stores, and will close more than 200 in the US over the next two years. He did not comment on international storeclosures.

Gap senior director of global external affairs Louise Callagy told Retail Week that the UK would see “minimal store closures” and said: “International, along with online, will underpin our growth.”

Callagy, who would not confirm the number or locations of any UK stores that are to close, added that Gap would also expand its outlet business.

“There will definitely be more outlet stores opening in the UK over the next two years,” she said.

In the US the retailer will also focus on outlet stores. Murphy said it was one channel that brought the greatest return, and that it would open 48 outlets over the next two years, taking its total to 250.

The casualwear retailer - which only launched a transactional European website last year - forecasts web sales will grow rapidly in the next two years. Online is anticipated to account for 15% of global sales by 2013; compared with 9% now.

Gap’s like-for-likes at its international business were up 1% for the full year to January 29. Net sales at its international arm were $1.92bn (£1.2bn).

Retail Week Knowledge Bank senior analyst Wendy Massey said that the UK had been a tough market for the US fashion retailer, but it has been improving its profits in this country. The UK arm recorded a £4.1m pre-tax loss inthe year to January 2010, an improvement on the previous year’s £8.4m loss.

Massey said: “Outlet is a tricky road to go down. Opening lots of factory stores could tarnish its image on the high street.”