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Uniqlo, Toray Extend Partnership For Textiles, Products

The companies expect their transactions to total 400 billion yen, or $4.6 billion at current exchange.

TOKYO — Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo is renewing its strategic partnership with textile manufacturing giant Toray for another five years to co-develop new fabrics and products.

This story first appeared in the July 22, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The original partnership began in March 2006 and expires next year, but now the two companies will continue to work together through 2015. Toray and Uniqlo are aiming for all transactions between the two companies over the five-year period to total 400 billion yen, or $4.6 billion at current exchange.

“We think we can do something that hasn’t been done anywhere until now,” said Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and chief executive officer of both Uniqlo and its corporate parent Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., at a press conference Tuesday. “Together with Toray we want to make a contribution to the world that hasn’t been made before.”

Toray has been behind the development and production of some of Uniqlo’s top-selling and most innovative product lines, such as the popular HeatTech line of winter innerwear; the ultralight down jackets, and summer-weight cardigans with UV protection. The two companies plan to use the partnership to further expand their cooperation and innovation. “From materials to products, from planning, development and production to distribution, we will use this virtual company to undertake an initiative unlike any other in the world until now,” said Toray’s president and chief operating officer Akihiro Nikkaku.

Between 2011 and 2015, the two companies will also focus more on developing the global scope of their business, both on the production and the sales end. Toray opened a new factory in Bangladesh, called TM Textiles & Garments Ltd., on July 8, and this operation will join other Toray facilities in supplying Uniqlo with products and materials.