The Fast Retailing spokesman described the JD.com initiative as a “three-month trial” that had ended because the store didn’t fit with Uniqlo’s China e-commerce strategy. JD.com unveiled the Uniqlo deal in April and at the time there was no mention of a trial period.
JD.com issued a statement Monday that said the discontinuation was not due to weak sales and that actually the store had exceeded expectations.
“We set aggressive sales targets for Uniqlo’s flagship store and actual sales were nearly double those numbers in the first month of operation, demonstrating the advantages of our platform,” the company said. “Uniqlo is stopping operation of its flagship store due to an e-commerce strategic restructuring in China, not based on the performance of the store.”
Uniqlo was the first international clothing partner on JD.com to take advantage of its full logistics solution that encompassed inventory warehousing and delivery, unlike Alibaba’s model which serves as a platform for buyers and sellers to link up. Alibaba is JD.com’s number-one rival in the Chinese e-commerce space. Uniqlo maintains a Chinese e-commerce store on Alibaba’s Tmall platform.
The sudden closure just three months after a well publicized launch and in spite of good sales has sparked speculation that Alibaba pressured Uniqlo to close its JD.com store.
But Alibaba denied that it had any connection to the closing of the JD.com store. “The allegation that Jack [Ma] or Alibaba exerted pressure on Uniqlo to take down its JD store is completely untrue and baseless,” a company spokesperson said.