Fast Retailing Co Ltd’s (9983.T) Uniqlo is launching its U.S. expansion this week with the opening of a flagship store in Manhattan that will anchor a global push to rely less on its home market of Japan.
In addition to the Fifth Avenue location, opening on Friday, Uniqlo is also opening a store in New York’s Herald Square next week, bringing its U.S. total to three locations. The new stores will be the chain’s two biggest.
Uniqlo, run by Japanese billionaire Tadashi Yanai, is directly challenging rivals such as Spain’s Inditex SA (ITX.MC), Sweden’s Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMb.ST) and U.S.-based Gap Inc (GPS.N) with stores a stone’s throw away from theirs on Manhattan’s major shopping strips.
All these chains are trying to tap the growing market for fashionable clothes, such as cashmere sweaters and lightweight down jackets, at lower prices among U.S. consumers who are likely to have a reduced purchasing power for some time.
Its rivals are well established in the United States. H&M opened its first U.S. location in 2000 and now has more than 100. In 2010, it had U.S. sales of some $1.3 billion. Zara has 49 stores here, including seven in New York. Uniqlo has had a single U.S. store, in New York’s SoHo district, since 2006.
But the U.S. expansion is modest compared with Uniqlo’s plans for Asia, especially China, Southeast Asia and South Korea. Of the 4,000 stores it hopes to operate by 2020, up from 1,000 now, some 70 percent will be in those countries.
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Category: Business/ Economy
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