US casualwear brand Gap has announced plans to expand into India through franchise-operated Gap stores in 2015, partnering with Arvind Lifestyle Brand Limited, one of India’s largest textile companies. The first stores are expected to open in Mumbai and Delhi, among 40 franchise-operated stores in total.

“India is an emerging market and an important next step in our global expansion strategy,” Steve Sunnucks, global president of Gap, states. As the world’s second most populous country with a population of more than 1.2 billion, India represents an important platform for the Gap brand. “More than half of India’s population is under 25 and they are actively embracing fashion in today’s retail environment,” vice president of Gap global franchise Ismail Seyis adds.

Gap is running a long-standing sourcing commitment with India. In 2007, Gap has launched the P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) workplace education program, which offers female garment workers skill education and technical training for work. Currently, the Gap brand is presented in nearly 50 countries, including over 400 franchise-operated stores along with about 3,200 company-owned stores.