Japanese retailer Uniqlo pads up for India play

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on October 03, 2019 Published on October 03, 2019

(L_R) Tomohiko Sei, CEO of Uniqlo India; Tadashi Yanai, Uniqlo Founder and Chairman; and Shantanu, Head of Marketing, Uniqlo India, at the company’s first Indian store, in New Delhi   -  Kamal Narang

Bets big on India’s diversity; first store to open in Delhi today

Japanese fashion retail giant Uniqlo, which made its formal India debut on Thursday, is betting big on the country and feels that the ongoing economic slowdown is cyclical.

The Japanese apparel retailer is the latest international brand to take the single-brand retail route to enter India.

Tomohiko Sei, CEO, Uniqlo India, told BusinessLine that the government’s move to liberalise its single-brand retail policy will enable the company to accelerate its growth in the country. He added that this would help the company strengthen its factory partners-led supply chain and expand local sourcing.

“India is an important market for us and offers tremendous potential. It has a large population and has been witnessing strong economic growth. Despite the recent slowdown, India’s growth rate is higher than other countries’. But it is a diverse market: each State or region can be different in terms of culture, seasonality and regulations. We are newcomers and our focus is on establishing strong operations and a strong team by hiring local talent,” said Sei.

He added that the company wants to have a presence in the e-commerce segment in India as soon as possible, but is still finalising its online strategy.

The first Uniqlo store will open its doors to customers on Friday in New Delhi; two more stores will open in the next few weeks in the Delhi-NCR region.

Talking to reporters, Tadashi Yanai, Founder and Chairman, Uniqlo and President and CEO of the Fast Retailing Group, said the strategy to open multiple stores to mark the brand’s entry was the “hallmark of our commitment and strong emphasis” on the Indian market.

Replying to a query on business expectations from the Indian market, he said, “My curiosity about India goes beyond just business. India is a diverse market... Our focus will be to educate ourselves about the Indian consumers. We aim to enhance the lifestyle of Indian consumers by offering more innovative apparel options as well as contribute to India’s economic development.”

He added that the company is eager to learn more about the Indian market and work together with Indian producers and strengthen its sourcing base here.

Uniqlo will bring its full line-up of LifeWear for men, women, kids and babies and will include its functional products such as Heattech garments. It has also collaborated with Indian designer Rina Singh to launch a kurta collection, which will be retailed in India, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

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Published on October 03, 2019
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