BANGALORE: Gap, the US apparel retailer, has announced plans to open 40 franchise-operated stores in India after forming a partnership with a subsidiary of Arvind Limited, the textile manufacturer.

Mumbai and Delhi, the two largest cities in India, are expected to be the first to host Gap-franchised stores with Arvind Lifestyle Brand Limited, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement.

According to the statement, India, as the world's second most populated country with more than 1.2bn people, represented an important platform to bring American casual style to consumers around the world. Gap was also drawn by the country's youthful demographic.

"India is an emerging, vibrant market and an important next step in our global expansion strategy," said Steve Sunnucks, global president of Gap.

Ismail Seyis, vice president of Gap Global Franchise, added: "More than half of India's population is under 25 and they are actively embracing fashion in today's retail environment."

Since launching its first franchise-operated store in 2006, the retailer has built up a worldwide portfolio of almost 400 of these stores alongside its roughly 3,200 company-owned stores.

It currently has 231 Gap stores across Asia, the BBC reported, and has plans to open another 110 stores this year across China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, in a separate development reported by the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, the ecommerce giant, has announced that it has signed an agreement with the Chinese authorities to launch a cross-border ecommerce platform in Shanghai's free trade zone.

It means the US retailer will be able to expand its presence in an ecommerce market dominated by domestic competitors, such as Alibaba, but also will be able to expand exports of products from Chinese companies.

Commenting on the company's ambitions, Doug Gurr, president of Amazon China, said: "We seek to be the most customer-obsessed online shopping platform with vast selections, competitive price and most convenience in China."

Data sourced from Gap, BBC, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff