The pace of Uniqlo’s European expansion is at a gallop.
This story first appeared in the December 22, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Japanese fast-fashion brand will launch its first location in Moscow in April.
In central Paris, where Uniqlo opened a 23,000-square-foot flagship on Oct. 1, which that month rang up the most sales of any of its doors worldwide, the brand plans as many as six other locations. Taking into account the city’s outlying neighborhoods, some 10 doors in all are expected, each measuring at least 22,220 square feet, said Charlotte Bouvier, marketing director of Uniqlo France.
Uniqlo also has its sights set on other major European cities, such as Madrid, Barcelona, Milan and a city in Germany. It’s possible the retailer will expand in London, where it has 14 boutiques, Bouvier said.
Such moves are part of Uniqlo’s goal of being a global force. It intends to open 100 to 200 stores a year outside Japan, as part of a plan of its parent company, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., to grow sales from 685.04 billion yen, or $7.12 billion at average exchange, for the year ended Aug. 31, to 5 trillion yen, or about $54.85 billion at current exchange, by 2020.
Uniqlo’s same-store sales in Japan in November rose 7.9 percent, boosted by chilly weather and major promotional campaigns. The number of consumers at Uniqlo stores in Japan increased 7.3 percent in like-for-like terms, and the total number of its customers countrywide, including online shoppers, gained 15.8 percent.
Fast Retailing’s company chairman and Uniqlo founder Tadashi Yanai told WWD in September he wants to revolutionize the way consumers buy clothes.
“When I was young, Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren, [Giorgio] Armani — those brands really were changing the world,” the 60-year-old executive said. “But after that, no one else has managed to do the same thing. We want to be a brand that really changes the world.”
Uniqlo is a brand known for innovations, such as selling T-shirts in plastic tubes and creating a fabric that retains body heat.
Uniqlo and Jil Sander are gearing up for the designer’s second +J collection, which will hit stores in Japan and elsewhere in Asia on Wednesday. The collection will launch in the U.K. on Jan. 7, the U.S. on Jan. 14 and France on Jan. 20.