By and  on June 2, 2009

PARIS — Continuing its global push, Japan fast-fashion giant Uniqlo plans to open a sprawling Paris flagship this fall.

Located at Rue Scribe in the city’s bustling Opéra shopping district and spanning some 23,000 square feet, the store’s glass-filled interior will be designed by Uniqlo stalwart, Wonderwall Inc.’s Masamichi Katayama.

During a presentation of Uniqlo’s fall collection here Tuesday, Hideo Majima, director of global marketing and communication for Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., which owns the brand, said a marketing campaign would roll out to build buzz ahead of a grand opening event.

Uniqlo owns 15 stores in the U.K. and has been testing the French market since late 2007 with a small concept store situated in Paris’ La Défense business district.

“We are aware that we need to work hard…we have to amaze [the French],” said Majima. “Paris is the fashion capital of the world — it’s the best opportunity to test the brand.”

Declining to disclose advertising budgets or sales projections for the Paris store, Majima said business at the brand’s New York and London flagships (which opened in 2006 and 2007, respectively) is in-line with company expectations.

Depending on the success of the Paris flagship, further French openings are likely, according to Majima, adding the brand is eyeing Moscow for its next store opening, scheduled for 2010.

New propositions from the brand’s plaid-heavy fall line, meanwhile, include synthetic leather jackets and a legwear range, which features animal-print leggings and tartan tights. The name of the hotly anticipated Uniqlo line created by Jil Sander, the brand’s new design consultant, is expected to be revealed at the end of June.

Separately on Tuesday, Uniqlo said its same-store sales jumped 18.3 percent in May, continuing a winning streak for the casualwear chain in recessionary Japan.

The number of customers visiting Uniqlo’s 648 Japanese locations increased 18.7 percent in the month, thanks to warm temperatures and the chain’s massive sales promotions for items such as polo shirts. However, average spending per consumer slipped by 0.3 percent compared with the same month a year ago

Total May sales, including direct marketing, rose 25.7 percent, and the number of consumers increased 26.3 percent.Average spending per consumer was down 0.5 percent.

During the month, Uniqlo opened four stores and closed two units.

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