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Gap to start franchising Old Navy internationally

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Clothing seller Gap Inc. said Wednesday that it plans to start to franchise Old Navy stores in international markets in 2014, part of its plan to add business at home and globally.

"There is meaningful opportunity for our diverse portfolio of brands to gain share in the $1.4 trillion global apparel market," said Gap CEO Glenn Murphy in a statement. The news comes as Gap presents its future goals at its 2013 investor meeting in San Francisco.

The company, which operates 3,100 company stores under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta and Intermix brands, did not specify how many stores it plans on franchising.

It also said it is looking into the possibility of opening company-owned Banana Republic and Gap stores in China.

In North America, the company said it plans to focus on expanding its smaller brands, athletic gear Athleta, e-commerce site PiperLime and boutique Intermix.

After years of struggling to reclaim its past fashion status as the place to go for basics and trendy clothes, Gap has focused on efforts to push brightly colored fashions, shake up staff, ad new designer collaborations and debut lively marketing campaigns.

The changes have been working. In its most recent fiscal year, which ended Feb. 2, income rose 36 percent to $1.1 billion. Revenue rose 7.6 percent to $15.6 billion.

Shares slipped 58 cents to $37.20 during midday trading.