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Gap goes retro for 40th birthday

In conjunction with its 40th birthday celebrations today, family-owned clothing retailer Gap is returning to its founding principles in order to combat the negative effects of the downturn. 

The retailer released second quarter results yesterday, revealing a slight slip in profits. However, the company is focused on regaining market share by returning to the basics on which Don and Doris Fisher founded the business 40 years ago – jeans and music.

Birthday celebrations include dressing the New York Stock Exchange in the new 1969 fit jeans, staging concerts in Gap stores across America and selling certain products at reduced prices. Second generation family members Bob, John and Bill Fisher will ring the NYSE closing bell tonight to mark the anniversary.

Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America, said: "On 21 August 1969, Don and Doris Fisher opened a shop in San Francisco called Gap that sold jeans and records. The fact that we're dressing the New York Stock Exchange in jeans for the first time in history really speaks to the role that Gap has played in pop culture and in outfitting America in jeans for the past four decades."

The back to basics approach fits with the family philosophy outlined by Gap Inc founder and chairman emeritus Don Fisher. "I created Gap with a simple idea: to make it easier to find a pair of jeans. We remain committed to that basic principle," he said on a statement on the company website.

Gap Inc encompasses several brands including Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta. Both Don and Doris still sit on the company board alongside their son Bob Fisher (pictured). The family owns around a third of the business that recorded revenues in 2008 of $14.5 billion.

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