By  on February 14, 2012

TOKYO  Building on the momentum of its 5th Avenue store unveiled last fall, Uniqlo is set to open its largest store to date in Tokyo's Ginza district on March 16. The store will represent an attempt to rebrand the company's current image in Japan, where many of its stores are smaller, more local outlets than its locations in other countries.

"We want to show the latest and the best Uniqlo, and we want to do that first from the world-renowned area of Ginza," said Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and chief executive of Uniqlo and its corporate parent Fast Retailing. "After that, starting with [Tokyo's] Shinjuku this autumn, we plan to open more stores in top high street locations around the world."

The new flagship location will encompass approximately 53,375 square feet of selling space spread across 12 floors. It will carry the Japanese fast-fashion retailer's complete line of merchandise, including clothing for men, women, kids and babies. The 11th floor will represent the company's largest UT store, offering customers reasonably-priced t-shirts in a variety of prints, from corporate logos to cartoon and anime characters. The 10th floor will showcase the brand's new UU line, a collaborative effort with fellow Japanese label Undercover. UU will be launched to coincide with the store's opening.

"[Undercover] represents the culture of Harajuku backstreets, of the atmosphere in Japan now," Yanai said. "Until now they've only made products for young people, but now [there are more] families. [By working] together, the intention was to create clothing that represents the new Japan." Creative director Kashiwa Sato described the UU line as "fashionable yet family oriented clothing."

Of the 520 sales staff members employed at the store, about 100 will be non-Japanese. In addition to typical sales and customer service duties, employees will offer customers a "concierge service" in six different languages, providing information about not only the store, but also the surrounding area.

Yanai said that moving forward, large-scale stores such as the Ginza one in high street locations will serve as a growth engine for Uniqlo. The company plans to have 288 of these stores worldwide by August, and aims to eventually open between 200 and 300 such stores each year, including 100 in China. By the year 2020 he expects Uniqlo's worldwide apparel sales to amount to 5 trillion yen, or $64.41 billion at current exchange rates. For the current fiscal year, ending August 31, the company expects Uniqlo Japan's sales to reach 629 billion yen, or $8.1 billion. It predicts Uniqlo's international sales will total 160 billion yen, or $2.06 billion.

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