February 16, 2011, 1:53 PM

The chairman of Sears takes a piece of Gap

Edward Lampert owns 5.6% of the rival apparel retailer.

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A regulatory finding this week showed that Sears Holdings Corp. chairman Edward Lampert owns a 5.6% stake in multichannel apparel retailer Gap Inc. Sears is No. 8 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide while Gap is No. 23.

The filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said that Lampert is also chairman of hedge fund ESL Investments Inc. Representatives from Gap and ESL offered no immediate comment.

The news comes days after Gap announced a further expansion of its e-commerce presence in Europe, with its rollout of Gap and Banana Republic web sites in Austria, Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia. 

Customers in those countries now have access to the English-language versions of Gap.com and BananaRepublic.com, with the company offering up to three days shipping at a flat rate of 6 British pounds (US$8.21).  “Launching in eight additional European countries underscores the loyalty and enthusiasm customers in Europe have shown for our online brands,” says Gap Europe and strategic alliances president Stephen Sunnucks.

Also this month, Gap reported that its comparable store sales increased 1% in January, surprising analysts, who expected at least a 3% drop.

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