Gap Inc's quarterly profit fell 40 percent as the clothes retailer had to discount heavily in the holiday quarter to get customers to shop at its stores.

For the fourth quarter ended January 28, the owner of the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, earned 218 million or 44 cents a share, compared with $365 million or 60 cents a share last year.

The company, which competes with Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing Co <9983.T>, H&M owner Hennes & Mauritz AB and Zara owner Inditex , had preannounced that sales fell 2 percent to $4.28 billion, while comparable store sales were down 4 percent. (Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago; Editing by Bernard Orr)