TOKYO — Uniqlo is heading to south Asia, with its first store in India set to open in the fall of 2019, the company said Wednesday. After establishing a wholly owned Indian subsidiary this month, the Japanese apparel retailer will begin recruiting staff soon for its first store, in Delhi.
Uniqlo’s entrance into India comes as there appears to be increasing interest in the world’s second-most populous country on behalf of retailers and fashion brands. Walmart is said to be close to acquiring Flipkart, while Amazon also has identified India as a key market. As for Uniqlo, the country represents another expansion following moves into Sweden and the Netherlands, both scheduled for this coming fall. The company also revealed recently that it will open in Hawaii this fall, and it entered Spain in fall 2017 with its first store in Barcelona.
India will become Uniqlo’s 22nd market worldwide. After the initial Delhi opening, the company will focus on expanding its presence in the capital region first, before considering further expansion in other areas of the country.
India has proven to be a difficult market for overseas apparel companies to enter and succeed it, due at least in part to strict government regulations on international companies investing and doing business there. In order to get around this, Zara and Gap both entered the market with local partners. H&M, on the other hand, operates on its own, but has not necessarily found success via this route. H&M has generally been struggling against rivals such as Zara as it recovers from too-rapid expansion and what it has termed fashion misfires.
“Our entry in India represents a significant step in our company’s global strategy, and we are very pleased and excited to be part of the country’s growing retail market,” Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s parent company, was quoted as saying in a release. “We look forward to introducing Uniqlo and our high-quality, affordable LifeWear apparel in India, while at the same time contributing to the expansion of the Indian economy.”
Uniqlo has tapped Satoshi Hatase, Fast Retailing group senior vice president, to be the local representative of Uniqlo India, which is a wholly owned consolidated subsidiary of Fast Retailing.