Uniqlo steps up expansion in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 4:44am

Uniqlo, Asia's biggest apparel chain, plans to add as many as six new retail locations across Hong Kong, following today's opening of its 10th global flagship store in Causeway Bay.

Tadashi Yanai, the chairman, president and chief executive of Uniqlo and parent Fast Retailing, yesterday described Hong Kong as "a very international city", where the company's business had grown steadily since opening its first shop in the city in 2005.

Tokyo-based Fast Retailing is the world's fourth-largest apparel retail company, with a portfolio of seven brands and global sales of about US$9.5 billion for its last fiscal year ended August 31.

Uniqlo, which has 16 stores in Hong Kong, intends to open two new retail sites in Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O this summer. Its next new store locations are expected to be in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon Bay, Sha Tin and Kwun Tong.

The chain's new three-level flagship store occupies 37,500 square feet of retail space inside Lee Theatre Plaza, a property owned by Hysan Development - Causeway Bay's biggest landlord.

Pan Ning, the managing director of Uniqlo Hong Kong and chief executive of Fast Retailing China, said it was imperative for the apparel chain to build up its presence in the city, despite the high rents.

In the past, the [mainland] Chinese saw the world through Hong Kong. Now, it is the foreigners who see the mainland through Hong Kong

"So many brands are hoping to expand their business into Hong Kong," Pan said. "In the past, the [mainland] Chinese saw the world through Hong Kong. Now, it is the foreigners who see the mainland through Hong Kong."

Uniqlo is embarking on a rapid international expansion that will see it open new stores across Europe, the United States and the Asia-Pacific. The firm, which has more than 1,200 outlets worldwide, plans to open between 200 to 300 new stores each year.

Yanai, Japan's richest man, repeated his goal of establishing Uniqlo as the "No 1 [apparel] brand in each market it is located". He pointed out that "Asia has no global brand" in the apparel industry, which Uniqlo plans to change by being "No1 worldwide".

It is a goal Uniqlo expects to accomplish by 2020.

Spain's Industria de Diseño Textil, which owns the Zara clothing chain, is the world's biggest apparel group.