NEW DELHI — In its ongoing global expansion, Uniqlo revealed here Wednesday that it will open three stores in the New Delhi capital region, with the first bowing in October.
The first store will be in South Delhi at Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj spread over 35,000 square feet. The second unit will be at DLF Place Saket, also in South Delhi, while the third store will be located at DLF Cyber Hub in Gurugram.
This is the first time the retailer is entering a new market with the announcement of not one but three stores.
“We are committed to the Indian market and are very excited to be launching our first three stores in Delhi, a region that embraces diversity and culture, from art and design to craftsmanship and fashion,” Tadashi Yanai, Uniqlo founder and chairman, president and chief executive officer of parent company, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., said in a statement.
Fast Retailing, which had a turnover of $19.17 billion in 2018, is the third largest apparel retailer in the world but the last to enter the Indian market after its bigger rivals, Spanish retailer Zara and Swedish retailer H&M.
Like H&M, Uniqlo has launched in India through its own subsidiary. Zara has a joint venture with Indian conglomerate Tata Ltd.
“We have been looking for space for a long time,” Yuki Katsuta, head of research and development at Uniqlo, told WWD. “Three great locations came up at the right time, and so we said, ‘Let’s open.’”
There were many reasons to choose the capital region for the first few stores, but one of the major ones was the fact that, unlike many other cities in India that have warm weather year-round, Delhi has four seasons. “So we can keep all the products based on seasons. Delhi is a good place to do that,” Katsuta pointed out.
While the web site has already been launched, with the Indian price points available for Indian customers to anticipate and plan their shopping — e-commerce will only launch at a later date. For Uniqlo, as for many other global retailers, the price points are a matter of concern. “We know our price points are slightly higher than our competitors but we feel our quality, and the quality of our design, is a distinguishing factor. Once people recognize that value, that value can cover the difference between our price points and those of our competitors,” Katsuta said.
Uniqlo already has a production office in India. “Hopefully we can expand production and sell not only in India but also the rest of the world,” he said. “We have been thinking about not only sewing but different materials from India, too. The challenge is how much we can achieve to our quality standard.”
Is the Indian market different from the rest of Asia? “There are some specific designs from India, like the kurta, but the bottom line, I see everybody wears jeans, and T-shirts in Delhi, and I don’t see much difference,” Katsuta explained. “But I am interested in learning more about specifics, and more about the history of embroidery by region because I see there are so many great things here and if we can do some things together we can introduce the beauty and the history of India to the world.”
Uniqlo, which is one of eight brands at Fast Retailing, contributes about 80 percent of the group’s sales and with sales of more than 1.2 billion pieces of clothing every year, has plans to become the biggest apparel retailer in the world.
How does India plug into this plan?
“If we want to be the number-one fashion retailer in the world, I think we have to be number one in India,” Katsuta said without hesitation. “I think we have to be number one in India, because India — and Asia — are a very important markets for us. If we can be number one in India, we can be number one in the world. So the success in the Indian market is very key for our future.”