TOKYO — Fast Retailing just keeps raising the bar.
The Japanese company, which already aims to become the world’s biggest apparel retailer by 2020, should now hit the 30 trillion yen sales mark by 2030 — or $253 billion annually at current exchange — according to the company’s chairman, president and chief executive Tadashi Yanai.
The executive said his company, which is already gunning to hit annual sales of 5 trillion yen, or $42 billion, by 2020, needs to start thinking beyond that goal. Yanai shared his vision with journalists at Fast Retailing’s yearly media event. The corporate parent of Uniqlo has said it expects sales for the year ending this August will increase 15.7 percent to 1.6 trillion yen, or $13.44 billion.
“So we are within sight of 5 trillion yen, and that’s not just big talk. I think soon we have to start making big ambitions for the year 2030 as well, and if it’s the year 2030, why not 30 trillion yen?” he told the crowd, some of whom chuckled at Yanai’s audacious goal. “It’s not a joke. I believe it’s possible that we can realize this dream.”
The company is expanding its international retail network rapidly. In the first quarter alone, Uniqlo opened 62 stores outside Japan. The brand had a total of 695 international stores at the end of November.
“The year 2020 is right around the corner, so we have started to talk about 2030. We have to look ahead,” he said, voicing optimism about markets such as the United States, China and Europe.
Asked about potential acquisitions, Yanai said he would be interested in good brands with a “compatible appeal across the world” but said the company’s organic growth will propel it in the near future.
“Even with a 5 trillion yen goal, organic growth is good enough from our perspective,” he said through an interpreter.
Yanai expressed enthusiasm about Uniqlo’s prospects globally. He said he is pleased with the retailer’s performance in the United States and is looking at opening stores in more cities such as Seattle, San Diego and Houston over the next year or so. As of Jan. 31, Uniqlo had 39 stores in the United States along the East and West coasts in cities including New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The first Uniqlo store in Chicago is set to open later this year.
As for China, Uniqlo’s biggest market outside Japan, Yanai downplayed the significance of the country’s economic slowdown. Uniqlo had 341 stores in China as of January.
“Some people tend to be worried about the Chinese economy, but the economic climate is worse in Japan than China,” he said.
Separately, Fast Retailing said Wednesday it is strengthening oversight of its suppliers. The company said it will step up factory monitoring efforts to cover its entire textile supply chain by March 2016. It is also creating a hotline that workers can call to report any problems directly to the Japanese headquarters.
Last month, SACOM, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group, issued a report saying that employees at two of Uniqlo’s Chinese suppliers, Dongguan Tomwell Garment Co. Ltd. and Pacific (Pan Yu) Textiles Holdings Ltd., were working excessive hours in unsafe conditions, including extremely high temperatures, poor ventilation and floors covered with sewage. In response, Fast Retailing said it launched its own investigation and warned the factories to improve working conditions.